We want you home: Kiir tells IDPs, refugees

We want you home: Kiir tells IDPs, refugees
President Salva Kiir (photo credit: Presidential Press Unit)

President Salva Kiir has directed the commanders of the unified security forces to beef up security and ensure the return of the internally displaced persons and refugees living in the neighbouring countries.

Kiir made the call last week during the swearing-in ceremony of the commanders. Those who were sworn in included the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Inspector General of Police (IGP), Director-Generals (DGs) of the National Security Service and the National Wildlife Service, and the Commissioner of Civil Defence Forces. Also sworn in were their deputies in the national army and all the other organised forces.

The IDPs entirely depend on food supplies provided by humanitarian aid run by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

Kiir said staying in the IDP camps teaches the citizens to be “reluctant” and to wait for free food. “‘

“We have people who are rotting in the PoCs in UNMISS all over South Sudan. What are they doing there? “This UNMISS is teaching our people to be lazy; that people wait for ready-made and free food to be given to them, and these are people who were cultivating,” he said.

‘‘They go fishing on their own. They catch fish for themselves, hunt in the bush and cultivate to produce. Now they are dependent on humanitarian assistance, “he further remarked.

“Let us clear the situation in South Sudan so that our people can come back. Those who are in the PoCs should come out. Those who are refugees also should come back, and all these things, if they happen, will be through you, who are the commanders of the joint forces. “

Repeated calls

This was not the first time President Kiir had called on the IDPs and refugees to return home. Unfortunately, no conducive environment has been created to persuade the displaced people to return home. Several of the IDPs’ houses or land are still being occupied by either government agencies or individuals, making them reluctant to return home.

Civilians, notably women and children, continue to bear the consequences of the violence across the country. Civilians have reportedly sought sanctuary in marshes in Leer, while others have been killed and their remains, as well as their homes, torched.

The resurgence of subnational violence, as well as attacks by armed and youth militias, has exhausted the country from north to south, east to west, Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, told the media on Thursday in Juba that he was discouraged.

According to Haysom, multiple and concurrent shocks such as flooding and the long-term economic consequences of COVID-19 are expected to occur against the backdrop of intercommunal violence and the country’s humanitarian crisis, which is exacerbated in 2021.

For instance, recently, thousands of villagers have been forced to flee their homes in Leer County, Unity State, due to fresh fighting between the parties to the agreement.

There are also reports of conflict in other parts of Unity State and Maiwut County in Upper Nile State.

Also, the recent conflict between the cattle herders and the farmers in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State, has forced several returnees to flee back to refugee camps in Uganda. About 10,000 of them were displaced to Magwi town.

Last year, President Kiir made a similar statement in Loa, Eastern Equatoria State, during the centennial celebration of Loa Parish. He pleaded with the indigenous communities of the area who fled their villages in 2016 to return and begin rebuilding their homes and contribute to nation-building to come back.

In October 2021, a member of parliament from Pageri Payam, who is also the chairperson of the Eastern Equatoria State legislature, accused some group of SSPDF soldiers stationed along Pageri to protect the movement of goods and people of causing unrest in the area.

The lawmaker petitioned the August house stating that on October 20, 2021, a group of SSPDF soldiers patrolling the highway went on the rampage, beating residents and looting their money and other valuables before apprehending them, an act he claimed caused fear among the returning population in the area, forcing some to return to Uganda.

Another legislator from Magwi county accused the head of the army in Achwa of threatening to evict inhabitants from the county and harassing civilians who voluntarily returned from the refugee camp in December 2021.

According to the MP, the commander swore not to allow community members from Magwi to return to their villages after abandoning the area over five years ago.