Issues impeding voluntary returns in opposition-controlled areas of Wau have been raised at a one-day round-table discussion that brought together the leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement in Opposition (SPLA/M-IO) in the area.
Organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Civil Affairs Division, the forum in Ngo-dakala, an area under the opposition in Wau, brought together more than sixty participants that included military, political, youth and women representatives.
“In fact, there are fears for our people in the POC [Protection of Civilians sites] to come out,” said Emilio Fada, Minister of Agriculture in Wau, stressing the need to form a joint- committee to engage the displaced persons.
“They see that a peace [agreement] was signed, [but] since September till now there is no implementation on the ground. They still feel that something may happen in the future,” concluded the minister.
“The solution is that the government should take their army back to the barracks, and the opposition [forces] also go to their barracks, and leave the civilians alone,” said Chief Musa Joseph of Ngisa area noting that disengagement of soldiers will allow citizens to return to their respective areas.
“We came to you here to assess challenges affecting voluntary returns,” said Justin Atit, UNMISS civil affairs officer in Wau, noting, “The peace agreement has been signed and the time has come for us to resolve challenges to allow people affected in the camps to return home.”
Mr. Atit noted that the discussion aimed at creating a conducive environment for safe and voluntary returns to the areas under the opposition in Wau
“Disaster has happened as you have seen: farms of the people have been burnt, no medicine, people are suffering,” said Anthony Fada, Opposition Governor in Wau, enumerating the challenges facing people affected by years of conflict.
Mr. Fada urged humanitarian partners to support the returnees with livelihood items as they prepare for the farming season.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).