Phelan and Wood (2006). An Uncertain Return. Report on current and potential impact of displaced people retyrning to Southern Sudan
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The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) heralds the prospect of huge population movements amongst southern Sudan’s 4.5 million displaced people.
The return of refugees and IDPs to the south will not only increase the demands on the region’s stagnant infrastructure. It will also force a re-negotiation of social, economic and political values and identities. The meeting of people who have been separated by so many years could cause more sudden and widespread social upheaval than any that occurred during the war.
This study investigates the current and potential impact of returns to Western Equatoria, southern Sudan. It examines the effects of returns on physical resources and in particular on the opportunities for returnees’ and stayees’ livelihoods; how stayees perceive returnees; changes in community dynamics and the potential fault lines between those who stayed, those who fought and those who left. It focuses on Ockenden’s southern programme areas of Maridi, Ibba and Ezo counties.
The recent history of these counties is one dominated by movement. This further complicates definitions of ‘returnee’ and ‘stayee’. These terms are shown to be fluid, often arbitrary and of little theoretical significance, and yet potentially divisive for those categorised as such.
For all areas studied, this report highlights the difficulties and problems of accurate recording of returnee numbers. The several thousands who have returned to date are a small proportion of the possible total but have already had a significant impact in certain areas.