Population swells in Magwi County as refugees return home

Population swells in Magwi County as refugees return home
Residents of Pajok Payam in Magwi County returning home (photo credit: UNHCR)

JUBA – The prevalent relative peace in the country has encouraged refugees to willingly return home in Pajok Payam of Magwi County, area commissioner Otto David Remsen has revealed.

In April 2017, thousands of residents in Pajok, Pogee, Palwa, and Lobone fled to the Palabek refugee camp in Uganda during the aftermath of the 2016 conflict that broke out in Juba and spread to southern parts of the country.

Yesterday, Mr. Otto said most of those who fled from the area had already returned home in Pajok from   Palabek Camp in Lamwo District of Northern Uganda to resume their normal lives in South Sudan.

“Since last year, the people of Pajok and Pogee started coming back. More of them are still coming because of the silence of guns and the prevailing peace in the area,” he told City Review in a telephone interview yesterday.

However, he did not disclose how many of them have returned home but said they keep on trickling in on daily basis.

He showed a commiseration for those still languishing in the camps saying life was very hard in the settlements.

“Life is not easy there because you cannot do any other thing the way you want. There are cases of sickness in the camps and it is better to come and settle in the homeland,” Otto said.

The commissioner appealed to the national government and non-governmental organizations operating in the state to rehabilitate the schools and health facilities that have been destroyed during the conflict to provide services to the returnees.

President’s plea

On Monday, President Salva Kiir directed all the government institutions to create a conducive environment for rebuilding and repatriation of South Sudanese who were displaced by the conflict.

In April 2019, the returnees in Pajok and Pogee had appealed to the government to concentrate on the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. They also appealed for humanitarian assistance from both the state and national governments.

Earlier this year, some of the returnees said the host communities of Northern Uganda settling near the border of South Sudan had shown their commitment to living in peace with them [returnees] so that they could focus on alleviating food insecurity that was created by the conflict.