86 displaced South Sudanese return home following peace deal

The group of 86 women and children at the UN’s air terminal (UNMISS)
The group comprising of 86 women and children at the UN’s air terminal ready to return to their homes (UNMISS)

Thousands of families who were displaced after a civil war broke out in South Sudan finally returned home to rebuild their lives after leaving a special protection site at the United Nations base in Wau.

The families were in the protection site in the capital of South Sudan for almost six years after seeking sanctuary from the violent conflict that erupted during the outbreak of civil war. Some of the children were even born in the camp and have never experienced life outside.

With a reduction in violence following the signing of a new peace agreement, these families and many others now have the confidence they need to return to their homes.

This also comes three months after the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) announced that ‘overall levels of violence had declined.’

The war began in 2013 after a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and the former vice president whom he had sacked. The president had accused his deputy, Riek Machar of attempting a coup d’état. Fighting then broke out between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-OI) which Machar started in opposition.

The violence resulted in deep nation-wide political and security crisis with seven out of the country’s ten states badly affected by the conflict. According to the UN, nearly a quarter of the population of the 12 million population were uprooted by the fighting and about 400,000 people killed.

Since the peace agreement was signed last September, more than 27,000 people have left protection sites located next to UN bases around the country. Another 3000 people have also recently expressed a desire to go home.  The returns process is a major logistical exercise involving UNMISS and humanitarian partners, including UNHCR which is the lead agency.  Those returning are grateful for the protection they have received but are excited to be back home with their loved ones.