ICRC (2008). South Sudan Humanitarian Assistance to Returnees and Affected Communities
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Millions of internally displaced people (IDP) and refugees were expected to return home after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005 between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The agreement formally ended Africa's longest civil war, which left about two million people dead, four million displaced and more than 600,000 living as refugees outside the country. The return of those displaced, however, presented a formidable challenge to the authorities and the resident communities, much as they welcomed their people home where infrastructure and basic services were either completely non-existent or extremely limited. Most structures had either been damaged or destroyed during the conflict – or simply never existed in the first place.
There are limited data for the south but the estimated social indicators are deeply disturbing. Poverty rates are estimated at 90%. Large areas are food insecure, acute malnutrition among children aged under five years is high (48%). Child mortality rate of children aged under five years is 250 per 1,000 while maternal mortality is 1,700 per 100,000. It is estimated that there is only one doctor per 100,000. Southern Sudan is host to rare tropical diseases, while malaria is endemic and measles, yellow fever, meningitis and cholera continue to take lives. While blanket HIV/AIDS prevalence is estimated at 2.6 per cent, rates of over 20 per cent have been recorded. Only 40 per cent of the people have access to safe drinking water while most do not have access to sanitary means of excreta disposal. The prevalence of diarrhoea is 43 per cent in children aged 6-59 months and guinea worm is endemic in some 3,400 villages (source: United Nations Children’s Fund- UNICEF).
Despite efforts that have increased the number of children receiving basic education, hundreds of thousands remain out of school. The exact number of children associated with armed groups is unknown, but it may be around 16,000, according to the UN. Large areas are known to be contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance. It is against this background that communities, strained already to the limit, started receiving returnees.
The Federation’s emergency appeal was a part of a coordinated response of the international community to contribute to the peace building in Sudan. Assisting returnees to reintegrate was identified an important element of the process.
Given the size and complexity of the challenge, the Federation designed a multi-faceted approach, combining emergency response with plans for a more sustainable capacity building of the National Society, aiming at an extended and enhanced quality impact in programme areas. The approach was developed through extensive consultations with all key stakeholders. The core of the programme was to provide services and assist returnees and their host communities build a sustainable future. It targeted groups of people considered particularly vulnerable – elderly, disabled, single parent households – who required additional protection. Four areas were