South Sudanese refugees secretly returning home: officials

(LAMWO) – Several South Sudanese refugees in Palabek settlement camp in Uganda’s northern district of Lamwo are reportedly sneaking back to their country illegally.

The LC 3 chairperson of Lokung East sub county, David Ocan Kasisi was quoted saying some refugees sneak through the porous border points at Waligo and Ngomoromo to do farming in South Sudan.

The refugees are also reportedly collaborating with Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in opposition who sometimes threaten peace, stability and security of Lamwo households along the boundary, he told URN.

The return of refugees is to be guided by a Tripartite Agreement, a legal bilateral framework setting out the modalities for the voluntary return of refugees to their country of origin in safety and dignity.

Separately, the Palabek camp chairperson, Robert Ochan reportedly confirmed that some refugees indeed sneak back home for fear of having their status revoked to maintain their homes and do farming since the land allocated to them is not enough.

In line with the 2006 Refugee Act, refugees in Uganda continue to enjoy freedom of movement, the right to work and establish businesses, the right to documentation and equal access to national services.

Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, with over a million refugees, most of them from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi and Somalia.

Over 40,000 South Sudanese refugees have sought safety in Uganda since 2017 citing fears of fresh armed insurgence, hunger, sexual and physical violence and forced recruitment of children, among others.

In March this year, South Sudan’s Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management said over 140,000 South Sudan refugees who fled the country to Uganda, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Sudan at the height of the civil war had returned home.

Source: Sudan Tribune