By Julius N. Uma
October 13, 2010 (JUBA) - The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has approved a $30m SDG (around $12.5m) budget to boost the planned repatriation of internally displaced southern Sudanese living in the north, James Kok Ruea, the humanitarian affairs and disaster management minister said Tuesday.
- James Kok Ruea the humanitarian affairs and disaster management minister addressing journalists at Juba airport, South Sudan, Oct. 12, 2010 (ST)
On 9 January 2011 the south is due to hold a self-determination referendum, which could see the south become a new independent country.
A council of ministers, he said, endorsed the budget following a comprehensive proposal on the status of internally displaced southerners in the north, presented by the newly-created ministry.
Minister Kok, who had just returned from meeting his counterpart in the federal government, said that all modalities have been put in place to ensure a successful repatriation exercise.
Pressed to elaborate further on these mechanisms, the minister said a technical committee had already been formed to oversee the registration of all southerners willing to return to the region.
“While in Khartoum, we met various local chiefs representing the internally displaced persons in the north. They agreed to help in the selection and registration of people willing to return to the south,” he said.
The minister praised the federal government for its interventions during the worsening flood situations in the south, where an estimated 50,000 people were displaced by heavy rains in various parts of the autonomous region.
Apart from donations, which he said ranged from food items, shelter and other cooking utensils, the minister underscored the federal government’s efforts in helping south Sudan set up information technology and early warning systems.
“With this [early warning systems] in place, the ministry will be able to detect any unforeseen natural calamities such as floods and hence inform people. This will help our people unlike when they are taken unaware,” Kok told journalists at Juba airport.
Recently, southern Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir Mayardit appealed to the southerners the turn up in large number and register to vote in the January referendum on possible southern independence.
The referendum is a key requirement within Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended over two-decades of a civil war between the Arab-Muslim dominated north and the south populated by Christians and those with traditional African beliefs.
The UN estimates that around 2 million people died during the civil war and about 4 million were displaced.