By Hou Akot Hou
Authorities in Northern Bahr El Ghazal state are grappling with tens of thousands of returnees who fled the violent war in Sudan and haven’t gotten homes to settle in.
Angelo Deng Akol, the deputy chairperson of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, said on Thursday that they have realized that a high number of returnees who were told to go to their places of origin have yet to integrate into their communities.
Deng said some of the returnees in the counties and within Aweil Town could be seen taking refuge under trees, and some were sheltering in the schools and churches.
“If you go to a place like Wadweil and the counties like Aweil East County’s headquarters, Wanyjok, we could not miss out on getting the returnees living under trees and in the public premises as they failed to get their families or relatives whom they left behind,” Deng said.
“We have been working hard to have an integration package for these people, and our role now is to put them on the registry to see to it that their plight of lack of land is sorted out just like other citizens in the state,” he continued.
Akol maintained that some of these homeless returnees were born and grew up in Sudan before returning to South Sudan spontaneously as they fled the violent flare-up in Sudan that forced them to return to their home country.
Mr. Deng reiterated that they are working with the state government, headed by Governor Tong Akeen Ngor, to ensure that all these returnees get reintegrated into their communities.
He said their relatives are living in a dire humanitarian situation that requires urgent intervention from the government and humanitarian agencies.
Akol appealed to the host communities in and around Aweil to lend a helping hand to returnees who have failed to integrate into their communities before they get allotted land for settlement.
Northern Bahr El Ghazal is one of the states that is hosting thousands of returnees, some of whom are still trickling in due to the raging war in neighboring Sudan, which has erupted since mid-April 2023.