Monday, 5 December 2011

POVERTY: South Sudan: Returning refugees

JUBA , 5 December 2011 (IRIN) - SOUTH SUDAN: Iklas Monu Ahmed, “Since I’ve been here, nobody has come to talk to me or show us where to go”

 Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN
Iklas Monu Ahmed and one of her children

A steady stream of barges from the North arrives at Juba Port but Iklas Monu Ahmed and her four children are still camped out at the dock three months after their ship came in. More than 350,000 South Sudanese have come back of their own accord over the past year, and the International Organization for Migration will have helped 20,000 returnees since January, when the country voted to secede from Sudan. Up to a million are thought to be in the North as the 9 April deadline approaches to “get legal or get out”. Many returnees need support with food and basic items, plus a plot of land, to build a new life in a new nation lacking opportunities. Ahmed is desperate as three-year-old Mamdu lies prone on a bare bedframe and the family is stuck, facing sickness and hunger.
“I was taken to Khartoum at the age of 11... Now I’m 31. The life was ok in Khartoum. I was working... and I was able to feed the family.
“But since I came here there is no one to receive us and nobody to take us home. Life is difficult, there is no food, and I came with children. Now the younger one is sick and the elder ones went to town looking for something to treat him.
“Of course, Juba is my place where I want to stay but I have nowhere to go and nobody to take care of me. If only I could take a piece of land to put the family and my luggage that is down here, I would be able to get something to do for myself, like making tea, and the family would be sustained.
“Since I’ve been here, nobody has come, either the government or any of the agencies, to talk to me or at least show us where to go.
“We were given cards, [ration] cards, but we have not been served any food or non-food items up to now.
“I left Juba after my mother died when I was 11 and my father was gone. So when I went to Khartoum I stayed with the relatives of my mother there and got married to a Darfuri and we separated.
“I do work in hotels helping to wash dishes and fetch water. They pay me 10 pounds [US$3.70] a day and I buy food every evening for the children.
“But for three days I have not gone as my son is sick. I took the child to the hospital and he has been prescribed drugs but they are not the easiest to buy from the clinics as we don’t have the money.
“He has malaria and he vomits whenever he tastes something.
“We sleep outside here on this floor.
“I’m here because the country now is at peace and it is a separate nation and I have come back home like any other national.
“If only I can get a piece of land, I can sustain the family, just like in Khartoum.
“There are many changes in Juba, but for me to be able to join in this race of changes, I need a piece of land.
“In the north, you live like refugees as no one is settled and you live under threat. Here with a piece of land, you can settle.”

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