Race to Help Returning IDPs Before Rainy Season
IOM is racing against time to assist
thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in South Darfur
return home in Northern Bahr el Ghazal before the onset of the
rainy season makes roads impassable.
More than 2,500 IDPs from Beleil camp have
already been assisted as far as El Deain by train. The camp,
situated close to South Darfur's state capital of Nyala, is one of
the oldest IDP camps in the province for Dinka tribes people from
South Sudan, as well as the largest.
From El Deain, IOM is taking the displaced by
truck to an IOM way station at Samaha, near the border with
Northern Bahr el Ghazal, where basic facilities such as water,
sanitation and shelter are being provided. The non-governmental
organization (NGO), Cordaid is providing health facilities with
UNICEF providing support by rehabilitating waterholes.
The IDPs then cross the river Kiir and from
there, IOM is transporting them to their final destinations in
Northern Bahr El Ghazal. The majority of the returnees,
approximately 2,400, have already reached home. However, with the
start of the rainy season, worsening road conditions will soon slow
down the journey.
"People are very excited and very happy, both
about returning home and about going home in a large group as this
gives them a greater sense of security, " said Dan Neysmith, in
charge of IOM's office in South Darfur. "We are taking home many
more people than anticipated each week since we started this
operation a few weeks ago. People want to get home before the rains
really come because when they do, there won't be any movement south
This week, IOM will be aiming to directly
assist more than 2,000 people. These include 1,400 displaced Dinkas
from Ottash IDP camp in Nyala town and another 500-600 IDPs who had
fled Beliel camp to El Deain following an attack on the camp in
February. In addition to these facilitated returns, IOM is
intervening to help up to 1500 IDPs that have spontaneously set off
for home and are currently stranded at the river Kiir near the
Samaha way station.
Since the signing of the comprehensive peace
agreement between Khartoum and the Sudanese People's Liberation
Movement in January 2005, more and more IDPs have been making their
way home to South Sudan. However, the window of opportunity for
those wanting to go to South Sudan from South Darfur is extremely
short with travel only really feasible between February and May,
after which the rainy season makes any travel impossible.
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