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South Sudan, UNHCR register over 11,000 returnees in June

Refugees from South Sudan fleeing unidentified location (File photo)

July 17, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan government and the UNHCR have said that over 11,000 South Sudanese refugees have returned from neighboring countries, such as Sudan, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

The South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) UNHCR and partners said they have verified the return of 11,383 South Sudanese refugees from neighboring countries in the month of June.

This represents a spike compared to the return reported in April, of 5 077 people, and of 4 693 in May. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Sudan, at the beginning of April, and amidst exceptional health measures put in place by the Government – including the restriction of cross border movements – the return of South Sudanese refugees have been steady, with a rise only last month

Overall, 301,033 South Sudanese refugees have spontaneously returned to South Sudan since November 2017, with 180,347 of them returning after the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in October 2018 and 24,137 since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region.

The majority of refugees who have returned in June used informal border crossing points. 46% of them (5 260 individuals) came from Uganda to Eastern Equatorial State into Magwi, Tsertenya, Pageri and Pogee locations; those from Ethiopia (1 965 individuals) to Akobo, Pochalla, and Lankien in Jonglei areas; others returning from Sudan to Aweil, Wau in Bhar el- Ghazal region, Upper Nile’s Malakal, Ruweng and Unity locations; and finally those from DRC and CAR reached mainly Western Equatorial State’s Gangura, James Diko, Source Yubu, Andari, and other locations.

Main reasons for the returns in June 2020 were attributed to: the onset of the crop season, coupled with the reduction of food assistance in refugee camps in Uganda and Ethiopia; the increase in the cost of living in refugee-hosting locations and the fear for the spread of COVID-19 in Sudan; armed insurgency in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri areas and some part of the Central African Republic.

Checking on property and family reunion were among other indicated factors, while some reportedly left family members in refugee camps with the hope of visiting them at a later stage or bring them later in the return areas. This may result in the pendular movements of refugees that will continue to be monitored.

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