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Government assures South Sudan refugees on peace plan

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 14th April 2019 08:57 AM

An estimated 140,000 South Sudan refugees have returned home as peace slowly returns to the country, authorities in South Sudan said at the end of March.

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The state minister for relief and disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru addressing a group of South Sudan refugees at Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district on Friday (Photo by Taddeo Bwambale)

An estimated 140,000 South Sudan refugees have returned home as peace slowly returns to the country, authorities in South Sudan said at the end of March.

CONFLICT

With the key principals of the South Sudan conflict edging closer to a lasting peace deal, Uganda has no plan to send refugees from the war-ravaged country back home against their will.

State minister for relief and disaster, Musa Ecweru, gave the assurance to a group of South Sudan refugees at Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district on Friday.

“No refugee will be forced to return home. If peace holds in South Sudan, we will send leaders amongst you to go there and assess whether the situation is safe,” Ecweru explained.

He said recent comments made by his senior minister, Hillary Onek, were taken out of context when he appeared to suggest that South Sudanese would return home if peace prevails.  

In August last year, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir and his arch rival, Riek Machar signed a power-sharing agreement that is appearing to hold after more than three similar attempts failed.

Uganda is home to 1.25 million refugees, majority of them from South Sudan, a country torn by half a decade of civil strife.

Refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan are accommodated at different settlements in West Nile and Northern Uganda.

Bidibidi refugee settlement alone is home to over 224,000 refugees from South Sudan and it is one of the world’s largest refugee settlements in the world.

An estimated 140,000 South Sudan refugees have returned home as peace slowly returns to the country, authorities in South Sudan said at the end of March.

However, refugee reception centres in Uganda receive at least 60 refugees from South Sudan every day, according to the ministry for relief and disaster preparedness.

More than two million people have fled South Sudan while thousands have lost their lives in the conflict that started in December 2013 when forces loyal to Machar and Kiir clashed.

Faced with a large number of refugees, Uganda is piloting a new model of refugee management that embraces humanitarian and development needs of both refugees and their host communities.

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