South Sudan government denies giving food to returnees

February 19, 2018 (JUBA) – South Sudan government has denied reports that it supplies food and free transport to refugees returning from neighboring Uganda upon their arrival to the war-torn nation.

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South Sudanese refugees fleeing violence in their home country wait to be transported to Uganda’s Arua district settlement camp on 6 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Isaac Kasamani)

“The government does not provide any assistance to the returnees, but works with aid agencies that provide food and other life-saving assistance to returnees upon arrival,”, Peter Gatwech Kulang, the undersecretary at the humanitarian affairs ministry told said Monday.

The official, however, said he was aware that some of the refugees have voluntarily returned to Yei River state since December last year.

A number of South Sudanese refugees currently residing in Northern Uganda have expressed a willingness return to the war-torn nation, upon hearing that the security situation in the country has improved.

Insufficient food rations, among others, are some of the conditions that have made life hard for some of the South Sudanese refugees.

At least 91 refugees, officials in the office of Uganda’s Prime Minister said, have said since December, voluntarily returned to South Sudan.

Joyce Amol, a refugee living in Palabek Ogili refugee settlement camp in Uganda’s Lamwo district, says living conditions at the camp are horrible.

“In order for you a human being to live well you need food, you need water you need other things to make you live like really a human being so we are lacking a lot in these camps,” she says.

Amol says she is willig, with her family, to return to South Sudan.

Peter Elija, a refugee living in a Kyriandongo refugee settlement camp, says he has not heard from friends who went back in December last year that the security situation in Juba has improved.

Driliga George, a refugee living in Palorinya refugee settlement camp, says his financial situation in Uganda is worsening every day.

He, for instance, said the food rations he receives from aid agencies are not enough to feed him and the rest of his family members.

According to Solomon Osakana, a district refugee desk officer in the office of the prime minister, at least 71 refugees from South Sudan registered to return to the war-torn East African nation in December.

“The government of South Sudan was giving something small food which they have to encourage people to go back, each time they go there to pick some food and I think they were listening to the radio the government has promised them some transport and food for those who are going back to South Sudan,” he said.

The government of South Sudan has, however, disputed the claims.

Titus Jogo, another refugee desk officer in the office of the prime minister in Adjumani district, said his office documented at least 20 South Sudanese refugees who left the camps to return home.

“Around last year, we registered at least 71 refugees who returned mainly to Juba,” he added.

Ugandan officials have advised refugees who want to return home to ensure they are returning to areas of South Sudan that are safe.


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