Tombura returnees appeal for healthcare, shelter

Tombura returnees appeal for healthcare, shelter

The war victims retreating to their residences in Tombura County are now grappling with the healthcare crisis that has hit the area.

The police commissioner Lt. Col. James Paulino told The City Review that the county had received an unspecified number of returnees who are now in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

“The situation in Tombura is now calm, there are no gunshots. Few people have returned to their homes, but others are still unwilling to come. What worries them is that there are no food and healthcare services here on the ground. The hospital was looted and everything destroyed during the war,” he revealed.

He further revealed that the healthcare providers that serviced the area had escaped due to war.
“There is no single organisation operating here in Tombura. Let them come to assist the returnees because the security situation is okay now; there is no security threat,” said Lt. Col. Paulino.

Over 80, 000 residents of Tombura County were displaced by inter-communal clashes between June and September this year, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) revealed.

While nearly half of the displaced fled to Ezo County, some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) took refuge in the neighbouring villages of Namatina, Duma and Nagero County and Wau, the capital of Western Bahr El Ghazal.

According to a local chief in Tombura, Mr Kazimilio Bandia, the majority of the IDPs fear that the unknown could return because they do not want to experience the same scenario they witnessed.

Mr Bandia also pointed out that the displaced persons want to be assured of services such as healthcare, education for their children as well as shelters and food as they rebuild their livelihoods destroyed during the ethnic clashes.

“The ceasefire which was signed has brought calm in Tombura, but what is making people not to return is that [they have no homes to return to…their homes were destroyed]. They want the government to assure them that there is no more fight,” Mr Bandia said.

He added: “I can say that Tombura is now okay, there is no gunshot, killing, and looting but, how will they survive if they return? No hospital is working, no food and shelters. So, this is what makes the people not to come back.”

Efforts not yet

Humanitarian organisations were yet to resume operations in Tombura since they fled in September due to heightened threats resulting from armed confrontation. Reports have said organisations’ assets and reliefs were also looted.

The City Review contacted Western Equatoria Minister of Health, James Adu Votoki to ascertain the level of damage to Tombura County Hospital, but he said he was yet to compile the details.

“I returned [to Yambio on Monday] so I am yet to gather the report of the general health situation in the state after that I will be able to let the media know,” said Adu on phone from Yambio on Tuesday.