South Sudan authorities ask nationals to return home

South Sudan authorities ask nationals to return home
South Sudanese wait for the arrival of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir at Juba International Airport in Juba on June 22, 2018. (Photo by AKUOT CHOL/AFP/Getty Images)

South Sudan authorities have revived calls for their nationals in Uganda and neighboring countries to return home.

They argue that calm has returned to the country following an end to half a decade conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

Alberio Tobiolo, the Governor of Torit State in Eastern Equatorial Province, says South Sudanese nationals in Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR) should be encouraged to return home.

According to Tobiolo, some of the refugees have started returning because of the prevailing peace in the country.

In 2014, Uganda opened reception centers for South Sudanese refugees in Lamwo, Adjumani, Arua, Kiryandongo and Kampala districts. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), says there are over one million registered refugees in the country.

Charles Okumu, the Ayaci County Commissioner in Torit State, says over 1000 refugees have voluntarily returned since the beginning of September, 2018. Okumu said several non-governmental organizations operating in Torit State are supporting the voluntary returnees with basic needs such as food, shelter and washing soap among others.

Voluntary repatriation is the preferred long-term solution for the majority of refugees in the world. Shortly after independence in 2011, South Sudan descended into armed rebellion in 2013 after President Salvar Kiir accused his then Deputy, Dr. Riek Macha of plotting a coup.

The crisis displaced one-quarter of the country’s 12 million population. In September 2018, President Kiir signed a peace treaty with Dr. Machar to end the hostilities. The deal was mediated by Sudan and signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.