Without people, there can be no legitimate election, Kiir urges to refugees to come home
South Sudan’s President has encouraged refugees in neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan, among others, to return home and assist in the country’s development.
President Salva Kiir also encouraged the people (Madi) of Loa who have fled to other parts of the nation to return to their homes when he addressed the congregation at Our Lady of Assumption Loa Parish of the Catholic Diocese of Torit last Sunday as part of the centennial of faith festivities.
“I’d want to urge to inhabitants of this area who are still seeking asylum to return home. This appeal extends to the rest of the nation as well,” President Kiir said. “I will say it again: return home and work with us to build our nation. We are aware of the difficulties that returnees endure, but I encourage you to return. “Home is preferable than a distant land.”
He said that the executive branch will work closely with the newly sworn-in Reconstituted Transitional Legislative Assembly to guarantee the return of internally displaced people and those living in refugee camps.
“Now that the three branches of government have been formed, we will collaborate to offer all initiatives necessary to facilitate the repatriation and resettlement of displaced people. The executive branch of government would collaborate with the newly sworn-in Reconstituted Transitional Legislative Assembly to facilitate return programmes,” Kiir said. “This is critical since your return is directly related to the agreement’s complete execution. For example, we cannot conduct a legitimate election when the bulk of our people are displaced.”
The president lauded the Catholic Church’s efforts, encouraged it to continue serving as a voice of reason, and urged the institution to accompany the people on their path toward peace.
“The Catholic Church has shown its worth to our people as an institution. Please continue to be the voice of reason in our nation, Church leadership. Join us on this path toward peace. Assist us in our efforts to prevent spoilers from reversing the progress we have achieved in implementing the Revitalized Peace Agreement, which we signed in September 2018,” Kiir stated.
“The Revitalized Peace Agreement is the road to stability, and we will carry it out in its entirety,” he said. Some question our determination to carry out this deal, but I can promise you that we will show them wrong.”
Mabuto Isaac, a pilgrim from Palorinya Refugee Camp in northern Uganda who came for the centennial festivities, expressed his desire to return home despite occasional instability in the camps.
“That is, in fact, a terrific concept. It has the potential to alleviate the pain we are experiencing in the camp. The situation continues to deteriorate since food rations are being reduced month after month, to the point where food is insufficient,” Mabutu said. “You know, when I compare the circumstances in the camp to the situations at home, I can go dig, grow something, and feed my family. It is quite safe today, in comparison to the days when we were forced to flee.”
According to Okullo Peter, a Magwi native, the government has to conduct major awareness efforts in the camps to encourage refugees to return home.
“People are not contemplating the present state of affairs, but rather how to rebuild our houses. The government has a great deal of authority. People in positions of power may visit and speak with residents of the camps in order to sensitise them,” Okullo added. “People need knowledge about current events, encouragement to avoid political misinformation, and they (government) may also promote young livelihood programmes.”
However, Oryema Emmanuel, a civil society leader in Eastern Equatoria State, warns that refugees should not return home just yet due to the country’s increasing intermittent insecurity. He chastised the country’s leaders for turning the peace accord into a farce in their remarks, claiming they were replete with ideas rather than real proposals.
“Returnees are not safe, and these events (ambushes) are frightening returnees away from their area, their original homeland,” Oryema added. “If the Republic of South Sudan achieves peace, we cannot imagine people being in IDP camps; you cannot remain in a POC inside your own country.”
“When there is a sign of peace, people are expected to return voluntarily,” he said. People in refugee camps in the diaspora are suffering and want to return home to visit their ancestral villages, to reclaim their lives and tranquilly. People are now discussing peace, but they will not be safe. If celebrants may be shot on the road, what is this now? This is a serious situation, and it is deterring people from returning home. People may be unable to attend as a result of this incident.”
Thousands of people from different parts of South Sudan and Ugandan pilgrims attended the centennial festivities of Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Loa, near Nimule, Eastern Equatoria State, last weekend.
The Madi region is one of many ravaged by the 2016 conflict, which forced many people to leave the nation, the majority seeking safety in Uganda.