Durable solutions underway for displaced populations in Central Equatoria
Yei, South Sudan – At a time when Central Equatoria is witnessing a high number of returns of internally displaced people and refugees, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) gathered over 70 key stakeholders from the local government, community representatives, civil society organizations, security forces, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies to a workshop that aimed at developing a durable solutions strategy to support displacement affected communities in the region.
This came at the request of Yei County commissioner, Aggrey Cyrus Kanyi, for IOM to support and spearhead the two-day workshop that helped identify viable pathways and steps to support sustainable and lasting solutions for returnees and IDPs in a region beset with scarcity of resources and heightened competition over land and administrative control.
“The Yei River County population has increased significantly because of a high number of returns and IDPs. This number is estimated to go up steeply in 2024. This is putting pressure on the county’s resources. We need to find a way forward together, with the communities at the center. Solutions need to come from the people, not us politicians,” said Hon Agrrey Kanyi during the workshop.
According to the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), returns in Central Equatoria state have been driven by reduction of aid in neighboring countries, the worsening humanitarian situation across South Sudan, and the returnees’ perception of improved conditions in their areas of return, specifically the improvement of the security situation.
IOM Programme Officer Imme Widdershoven said that these returns signify that the current situation requires a shift in programming from a humanitarian level of intervention to a recovery-oriented one.
“Durable solutions require a long-term approach. Humanitarian needs can be prevented by planning for self-reliance and resilience of both displaced people and the communities that receive them. Such interventions need to be designed by these communities themselves and led by government, with support from partners. In Yei River County, the initiative of the county commissioner to set this process in motion is timely and reflects political will to assist the county’s population,” said Widdershoven.
IOM currently implements an Area-Based Programme in Kajo-Keji, Yei, Morobo and Lainya through the UN Multi-partner Reconciliation, Stabilization, and Resilience Trust Fund in South Sudan (RSRTF). The programme supports communities through strengthening social cohesion and stability between politically divided communities, including between returnees and host communities. It achieves this by implementing grassroots-driven solutions and amplifying the voices of the most marginalized in conflict resolution and peacebuilding activities.
“It is better to be home in South Sudan, than to be a refugee. However, coming back, we are still facing challenges. For instance, many of us do not have access to land for farming. This makes it difficult to earn an income, whereas basic goods and services, such as food and water, are expensive,” Winnie Labo, a South Sudanese refugee in Uganda who returned to Yei said during a sharing session.
Durable solutions is a collaborative process that convenes strategic and deliberate actions from development, humanitarian, human rights, and peacebuilding actors and led by the government and the affected populations.
During the workshop, the participants outlined the current challenges for displacement affected communities in Yei River County and identified possible solutions. They discussed how integration of returnees and IDPs can best be supported. The conclusions, a list of recommendations around, for instance, land allocation, basic service delivery, livelihoods opportunities and social cohesion, will be translated into a roadmap towards durable solutions. The roadmap, to be anchored in the county development strategy, will guide all stakeholders on how to work together towards achieving durable solutions for displacement affected communities in Yei River County.
For more information, kindly contact Nabie Loyce in IOM South Sudan; Email: email@example.com, Tel: +211912380115