RENK, UPPER NILE STATE - Thousands of returnees who have just returned to South Sudan from the North on the Eve of independence are wallowing in despair in Northern Upper Nile state, Renk County.
The returnees were formerly Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who fled to Khartoum for refuge during the civil war between the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) and Khartoum Government controlled by Islamic Fundamentalist. Many of the people who trapped in Renk County are supposed to be heading to greater Equatoria, Greater Bhar-al-ghazal, Jonglei, and other states.
Renk is crowded with returnees arriving from Khartoum daily. The life is difficult for them because they don't have foodstuff to survive. Most of them are homeless, since they left all their properties in Sudan. They made a numerous appeal to the government of South Sudan to facilitate their transport home, but nothing has happened. The host community has gathered some meager resources from their empty coffers as generous and solidarity gifts to their brothers and sisters who have just arrived from the North bare handed. Many complained the scarcity of jobs opportunities to help them get little for their families to feed on. They are plagued with colossal deadly diseases such as malaria, cholera, dysenteries and many other indescribable diseases. The most affected are children and the old people who cannot withstand the harsh conditions.
This prompts anyone to ask simple questions, what about the money allotted by the government for their repatriation before independence? Where are the humanitarian and the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation commissions? Silence on the government side appears to be evasion of responsibilities. The government should rescue these people before the conditions worsen. The state governments should also expedite the process of reintegration of the returnees to dispel the feelings of alienation that have begun to arise among the returnees. They are citizens of this country and should be accorded all sorts of support like other citizens.
The UN Agencies and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should give generously help to improve the worsening humanitarian conditions instead of putting up in well air-conditioned mansions in Juba and some state headquarters.
The standard of living is getting tougher for the new nation; challenges are sprouting one after the other within the shortest time since independence. The new government must double her pace to rescue the poor who are battling the sharp pangs of famine, insecurity, unemployment and lack of good roads.
Renk County is at the extreme end of South Sudan, bordering White Nile state capital, Kosti. However, importation of food items has proven difficult since the Sudan government decided three months ago on the Eve of independence to block all roads leading to south Sudan. The citizens of Renk County are battling the scarcity of basic food items and inflation, which has engulfed the nation immediately after independence. Bringing goods from the North is strenuous because it involves incurring the police and army wrath, which extort money from the traders delivering goods to South Sudan.
Many Darfurians are rotting in detention camps in North-South border towns along Unity State borders with the North for bringing goods to the South. The government should help to the business community by opening roads linking the states of South Sudan. Furthermore, by securing the river transport routes to enable land locked states have food items delivered by the local businessmen who are trying to help their people.
The Upper Nile Times