Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Sudan to help southerners return home

Nov 15, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan will begin to return some of the more than 2 million southern Sudanese who have lived in slums surrounding the capital Khartoum for more than two decades, officials said on Wednesday.

The United Nations will contribute more than $100 million to the massive return programme, which begins almost two years after Sudan signed a north-south peace deal to end Africa’s longest civil war which killed 2 million people.

“This should be done before the census and that will enable those who return also to participate in the…elections,” said Humanitarian Affairs Minister Kosti Manyebi.

Under the deal, southerners have the right to vote by 2011 to secede from the north or to remain united. Elections are due to be held in 2008 and 2009. The war forced more than 4 million to flee their homes, the world’s largest displaced population.

The mostly southerners who live in the slums have for years been subjected to forced relocations and demolitions of their homes as the land is sold off to investors by Khartoum state.

They are often moved to desert areas far from their workplaces, with no transport links, running water, electricity or adequate healthcare. Many are therefore desperate to return home to their original birthplace.

More than 800,000 have already returned to the south from the many parts of Sudan where they had fled to escape the bitter fighting between the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Khartoum.

The government is hoping to assist at least 150,000 in Khartoum this coming year to go home. Conditions for those who have already returned are terrible, with mine-ridden roads and people crowded onto unsafe roofs of commercial boats to ride south along the river Nile.

Militia attacks and illegal taxation on roads also plague the returnees. And for some, the lack of any facilities, food or clean water in the south meant they came straight back north.

But Manyebi said facilities would be provided along the way and at destination points. Registration in the slums around Khartoum for those wishing to return would begin on Nov. 19.

Similar programmes in other states of Sudan which house southerners who fled the fighting would begin at a later date, Manyebi said.

“Don’t all come to Khartoum…we will get to you,” he told a news conference.

The central government would spend around $30 million and the autonomous southern government $24 million on the first year of the project, which could take years to complete.