News, Northern Bahr el-ghazal

Returnees in uncertainty after fleeing Sudan conflict

By Hou Akot Hou


Hundreds of thousands South Sudanese returnees who have arrived in Aweil East County, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State after fleeing violence in Southern Kordofan state of Sudan are in dilemma.

Several of the returnees, while speaking to our reporter, offer a harrowing ordeal of their journey and the desperate situation they are in at the moment.

Trauma and displacement

Abuk Garang Dut, 30, described the chaos of the escape. “The fighting erupted in the middle of the night,” she said. “Some people were killed in their homes, and my brother’s wife was shot while we were fleeing.”

The trauma of witnessing such violence has left Abuk struggling with sleep and hallucinations.

Abuk and her fellow returnees are now living in makeshift camps under the trees in Rumaker Payam. Many children are sick with pneumonia-like infections due to the harsh conditions.

Uncertainty and lack of support

The returnees are unsure where they will go next. Most lost their belongings during the escape and have no way to return for what they left behind. They are also concerned about finding jobs and rebuilding their lives.

“We contacted the local chiefs, but we don’t know if they can help,” said Dut Garang Bol, another returnee. “The authorities haven’t done anything yet.”

Food and shelter: the most urgent needs

The returnees’ most immediate need is food and shelter. They are malnourished and sleeping in the open, exposed to the elements.

“Our children are getting sick because of the cold and lack of food,” said Adut Garang Bol, a representative of the returnees.

“We desperately need help from the government and aid agencies.” She pleaded on behalf of her fellow returnees.

A glimmer of hope

The county Aweil East commissioner, Kerbino Thiep Tong, has pledged to share the returnees’ plight with the state government and aid agencies. He also promised to allocate land for them to cultivate.

The national Member of Parliament, Agany Deng Kawac, who visited the returnees’ camp along with the local authorities has also assured the returnees that he will raise their concerns with the national government.

The South Sudanese returnees face a difficult future, but there is a glimmer of hope that they will receive the support they need to rebuild their lives.

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