UNITED NATIONS United Nations Mission in Sudan UNMIS
MONTHLY ACTIVITY REPORT Section: Return, Reintegration, Recovery 08 October 2008 Unit: Reports Date: Key activities carried out in reporting period:
1 September-04 October 2008
Returns Overview Before ADRA suspended its tracking operations in Kosti due to a lack of funding from IOM, the team reported as of 1 September that no returnees were waiting at the wharf for river transport south. Scattered spontaneous returns were reported thought the month from UNMIS/RRR teams in the field, particularly in Central Equatoria, Lakes, Southern Kordofan and Upper Nile, while seasonal flooding continued to create new displacement in some parts of the country. Although the number of organized return convoys from neighbouring countries remained in decline, this month UNHCR reported that 290 refugees did return under the assisted self-repatriation mechanism. This brought the cumulative total for organized and assisted refugee repatriation to 137,631 by the end of September 2008, of who 60,676 had arrived this year. Figures for organized IDP returns have risen slightly to a level of 28,249 persons so far in 2008 and 81,036 cumulatively. Overall, including the 250,000 spontaneous returnees in this year alone it is estimated that more than 2.37-million Sudanese have returned home by the end of September 2008. Joint Plan for Returns On 12 September, 24 IDPs from Juba, Central Equatoria State, were assisted in returning to Maridi, Western Equatoria, under the Joint Plan in an exceptional rainy season movement. Another 73 IDPs were similarly transported from Juba to Yambio. Also under the IOM Return of Qualified Sudanese Programme designed to attract skilled professionals home, ten individuals returned from Khartoum to their final destination in Juba. Spontaneous Returns At the beginning of the month the lack of a tracking mechanism at the airport in Juba, Central Equatoria State, was discovered not to present an obstacle to monitoring when ADRA was pleased to note that in total 205 families arriving by air had presented themselves riverside to register for reintegration assistance along with those who come by barge. Later in the month, ADRA verified another 342 families (2,271) of spontaneous returnees in Central Equatoria most of which had returned by barge. IOM/SSRC registered a total of 2,291 spontaneous returns in Unity state which had arrived in the month of August. Also, in Upper Nile ADRA recorded 31 individuals at Malakal port. All returnees were provided with WFP three month assistance package. In Juba, Eastern Equatoria State, in the last week of September, UNMIS/RRR identified 150 spontaneous returnees from Torit and Wau some of them stranded at the port since June. Their 3-months food assistance has been exhausted. IOM and SSRRC have been contacted for transport assistance. Refugee Returns UNHCR repatriated 45 refugees of which 42 from Uganda under the assisted self-repatriation mechanism. Between 1 January and the end of September 2008, the total number of refugees returned through organized return supported by UNHCR reached 60,676, of whom 59,114 persons (97%) arrived in organized movements and 1,562 (3%) under the assisted self-repatriation scheme. As of the close of the period, repatriation of Sudanese refugees to southern Sudan and Blue Nile had reached a cumulative total of 294,461, of which 137,631 returned under the organized and assisted selfrepatriation programmes.
State-Level Co-ordination and Policy Dialogue In Khartoum, at a meeting with IOM, UNHCR, WFP and UNMIS/RRR, HAC announced its plan to conduct a new intention survey in southern Sudanese IDP settlements across the state. This would determine the magnitude of remaining returns, as well as the needs for local integration and help further planning. A technical team was organized to consider modification of a questionnaire used in a previous survey, development of a sampling methodology and training of enumerators are to be conducted to enable this exercise set to commence in early November. HAC requested the technical assistance in information management from UNMIS/RRR and additional technical support from IOM. The funding of the project is still under consideration. Following compilation and analysis of the data, HAC would seek the convening of the Humanitarian Policy Committee to discuss various planning issues. Also in Khartoum, SRRC informed UNMIS/RRR of the possible availability of US$15 million in GoSS funding for the upcoming IDP return season. Further discussions will explore the possibility of applying these funds to the Joint Plan rather than apportionment among state governments as in the previous two years. As preparations advanced for a planning workshop to discuss returns during the next dry season, UNMIS/RRR in South Darfur met with community leaders on 4 September to receive a request to increase the target for any future return operations in view of the steady deterioration in livelihood opportunities for IDPs both inside and outside camps in the state. On 3 September, UNMIS/RRR met with the new civil administrator for Abyei, along with RCSO and UNMIS Human Rights. The newly appointed administrator, representing the SPLM, expressed appreciation for UN efforts in the area and confirmed that he would be selecting a cabinet by midSeptember. Good relations with the deputy administrator, representing NCP, were also acknowledged. NCP and SPLM have finalized the list of the civil administration appointments and are waiting for the endorsement by Khartoum and Juba. PADCO/ECO has done a preliminary assessment for a contract to construct accommodations and offices for the Abyei Area Administration. Later in the month at a gathering requested by HAC on 14 September, HERR invited UNMIS/RRR and other agencies to examine returns to the Abyei area, where a return plan is being developed for the eventual concurrence of the new civil administration. A central element of the proposal consists of the establishment of an Abyei Area Return Commission to guide the process, with HAC -SSRRC playing the role of its secretariat. With participation of both governmental and agency representatives, the gradual transition of ownership to local authorities would be encouraged. As of mid-September, UNMIS/RRR in Abyei estimated that no more than 5,000 persons were living in the town. Reports and, where possible, assessments suggest up to 9,000 in surrounding villages, half of whom had remained in the area during the clashes. Little increase in returns has been detected since the end of August, most likely in response to the high visibility of UNMAO activities and the low profile of the new civil administration in the town. In Blue Nile, daily meetings have been held to monitor the food crisis in Kurmuk following reports from Kurmuk Commissioner and UNCHR that 48 and 21 children (aged 1-6) have died in Gindi and Borfa villages respectively, between August and September due to malnutrition, diarhea and malaria. The host communities who accommodated returnees from 2006 and 2007 return seasons, are suffering from a shortage of food since flooding washed away their crops. A similar situation is developing in Yabous, Belatouma and near Chali. An inter-agency mission is being prepared to asses the situation and allow for proper response. Leaders from the southern Sudanese community in Southern Darfur met with UNMIS/RRR on 14 September to voice the desire of many of their compatriots to return home. Poor sanitary and hygienic conditions in the camps, combined with a deteriorating security situation overall, have created a hostile environment for the IDPs, in particular for the most vulnerable. Repeated reports of gender-based violence have been met with inaction by the authorities. In Western Equatoria, a series of coordination meetings were organized to discuss assistance to Congolese refugees entering Sudan via Gangura Payam following LRA attacks in Sakure on 18 September and in Duru, Bayote and Kiriwa villages in DRC Congo on 20 September. An estimated 500 Congolese refugees were reported in Gangura and more than 100 in Nabiapai at the beginning of the month. The presence of these Congolese refugees is creating a humanitarian crisis (food, water, sanitation) as from January to-date, more than 600 Sudanese spontaneous returnees had also arrived in the Payam and are in a precarious situation themselves. In later developments the number of Congolese refugees rapidly increased to 5,000, with rumours of 15,000-17,000 people being on the their way to the
border. The Government is looking in to relocation of the refugees to more easily accessible Li Rangu area while UNHCR and WFP are working on diverting food stocks to assist the refugees. In Western Bahr el Ghazal, the Ministries of Social Development and of Lands and Physical Infrastructure, together with the Returnees Committee, and the County authorities are in the process of allocating land plots as part of the Navasha Resettlement Project. The 3,000 available plots will be allocated by lottery, with the monitoring of the international community. On 23 September in Lake State, UNMIS/RRR, NGOs, UN Agencies and Lakes State Government Ministries participated in a meeting chaired jointly by WFP and SSRRC to plan the Annual Needs, Livelihood and Nutrition Anthropometric Assessment. Unlike previous years this assessment is to cover multi-sectorial issues beyond food and livelihood i.e. health, water, sanitation, education, nutrition etc. The assessment mission in Lakes State is expected to commence on 29 September and end on 15 October. Similar assessments will be carried out in all ten Southern Sudan States. As the assessment result is expected to give a clear picture of the gaps and general welfare situation in the State, the interagency reintegration and early recovery assessment previously planned by RRWG may be put on hold.
Assessment/Data-Gathering Throughout September, UNMIS/RRR continued follow-up meetings on data collection for the campprofile exercise in the Khartoum located IDP camps at Mayo, Jebel Awlia, Omdurman el Salam and Wad el Bashir. Pending the input on elderly population in the camp, OES profile is close to conclusion. Collection of data in WEB continues as planned while a visit to Suba camp on 23 September was postponed due to the heavy rains. During a preparatory visit to Yousif area, UNMIS/RRR met with the representatives of the 6 popular committees which will be covered separately, with the possibility of additional rounds of meetings to cover any potential information gaps as was the practice during the previous visits to other camps. Preliminary results pointed to an urgent need for interventions in the area of basic services for the IDPs currently residing in these camps. In Unity on 1 September, UNMIS/RRR participated in an inter-agency mission to Abiemnom to assess the flood-affected areas and make recommendations on humanitarian assistance required. According to local authorities, approximately 2,119 households were affected by the flooding, in response to which the county dispatched nine tonnes of sorghum. The assessment team recommended the provision of shelter material, mosquito nets, a food-for-recovery programme to construct proper drainage and medical supplies to cover community needs. An assessment of livestock diseases will be conducted by the state agriculture ministry. In South Darfur on 2 September, OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM, FAO and UNLJC conducted an assessment in Kalma camp for the first time since the incident on 25 August. The delegation reassured sheikhs that humanitarian operations and weekly meetings with them would continue. In Upper Nile, at the beginning of September, 400 households were reported displaced by floods in Mabaan County resulting from the overflow of highland streams across the border in Ethiopia. As result, SSRRC in Mabaan, together with MedAir, UNHCR, CAFOD and SIM, conducted an assessment on 1-2 September in Bunj, Bankuman and Green villages in the county. Preliminary assessment indicated 2,800 affected individuals in 311 households. The team recommended the following measures: drainage improvement; distribution of mosquito nets; provisions of plastic sheeting; monitoring of equipment to ensure continuous safe water supply; intensification of hygiene promotion activities; and monitoring of public health for early identification of any disease outbreak. On 4 September in Lakes State, UNMIS/RRR joined Civil Affairs, UNMO and UN/Force Protection in an aerial patrol to Shambe as part of the regular monitoring and assessment of trends and volume in spontaneous returnees through that corridor to the eastern region of the state. During this visit, the payam administrator and SSRRC staff informed UNMIS/RRR that all thirty returnees who had arrived on 12 August had left for their final destinations in Adior, Nyang, Pagarau, Malek and Yirol town. Another group of 25 returnee households, reportedly arrived on 20 August, had also managed to disperse successfully to their final locations within greater Yirol. Although security situation within and around Shambe, is reported to be calm and peaceful vehicles travelling from Yirol to Shambe were recommended to use armed escorts in the wake of a murder incident on 20 August. The population in Shambe was found to be very much reduced, reportedly as a result of a high incidence of water-borne and related diseases during the rainy season, compounded by the total lack of access to basic services
such as potable water, sanitation and health. In Abyei, prospects of an eventual larger-scale return to the town increased with the visit of the newly appointed civil administrator, who gave indications that the entity might be functional by mid-month. An intention survey conducted among the displaced in Northern Bahr el Ghazal revealed, however, that only one percent expressed any desire to return soon, while sixty-nine percent have no intention of returning at this juncture while in Warrab a total of 18,000 IDPs registered in Turalei may ultimately return to the Abyei area. Both groups are awaiting full deployment of the joint integrated police units and actual functioning of civil administration structures. Also, Returnee registration by HAC-SRRC and UNMIS/RRR has begun in Abyei mid-September, with tracking of information related to child protection incorporated into the tracking data at the request of UNICEF. Based on the number of dwellings counted and average family size, approximately 4,000 individuals are estimated to have returned to the town of Abyei with perhaps another 10,000 in surrounding villages. The largest group of displaced people remains around Agok where HAC-SRRC noted an increasing desire among displaced to return to Abyei. Significant return to Abyei is not anticipated before the end of the school year. A draft proposal for the establishment of an Abyei Area Return Commission to guide the process will be shared with the new entity to ensure its full concurrence and ownership. In Western Bahr el Ghazal, meanwhile, WFP informed UNMIS/RRR that well over 1,100 displaced individuals had been verified in Wau town alone. Significant efforts by various UN agencies and NGOs to assist the 12,000 estimated displaced continues. UNMIS/RRR in Abyei and SSRRC, accompanied by the INGO Norwegian People Aid (NPA), travelled to the villages of Todaj and Dokra to the north of Abyei on 3 September. Although the NGOs Islamic Relief and Panacare have been providing NFIs and food assistance in Abyei-town, NPA would be the first organization to do so in surrounding villages. A JIU camp and roughly fifty returnees were found in Todaj, where the community cited no security concerns. In further developments on 19 September, UNMIS/RRR accompanied HAC-SRRC and NPA to Lou village (35km East of Abyei) where NFIs were distributed to 205 households. Distribution of NFIs in villages around Abyei (Miakol, Galar, Miabek, Bioknom) where cultivation was disrupted by the conflict was continued thought the month. On 2 September, the IDP mapping task force team comprised of UNMIS/RRR, IRW, IOM and SSRRC visited the IDP settlements in Ganji and Bungo, located within Juba town, Central Equatoria State. The aim of the visits was to map IDP settlements located in town and assess willingness to return. In a related effort UNMIS/RRR visited the port in Juba on 3 September to monitor the movement of spontaneous returnees from Khartoum. It was found that about 51 individuals were stranded there, most of whom were destined for Eastern Equatoria, while two of the households were headed for Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal. The returnees reported that they had not received any food and that many of the children among them were in need of health assistance. As a follow up on the issue UNMIS/RRR visited IOM and UNHCR on 5 September proposing that UNHCR offer accommodation at the way station and that IOM provide assistance with transport to final destinations. The second part of the verification exercise for spontaneous returnees was completed mid September. In collaboration with IOM, FAO, WFP, Islamic Relief and SSRRC, UNMIS/RRR had planned an interagency verification mission to Lainya County, Central Equatoria State whose objective was to verify a figure of 9,658 spontaneous returnees registered by SSRRC and IOM under the tracking and monitoring programme. Following the verification exercise, on 22 September, UNMIS/RRR called for a meeting of the verification team to discuss intervention in Lainya County for provision of social services. UNMIS/RRR in Northern Bahr el Ghazal conducted reintegration monitoring surveys in collaboration with SSRRC and local authorities in Ariath Payam in Aweil North County and in Wedweil Payam in Aweil West County. The exercise was initiated to respond to a lack of inadequate information about reintegration activities and to gather data on social, political and economic reintegration issues in communities of high return, recommendations to improve the delivery of reintegration assistance were expected as a result. According to this survey, seventy percent of returnees stated that their lives were better now at home than when they were in displacement in the north, despite many challenges. Respondents cited freedom, availability of land for agriculture and kinship relationships as positive aspects. Many expressed concerns about medical consultation fees at the PHCU, as well as the need to purchase medications on the market. Most vulnerable households could hardly afford even such nominal fees, not to mention the cost of medication. In terms of economic development, respondents acknowledged that the host community tended to be envious of returnees who possessed greater skills. In the second part of reintegration monitoring survey that took place later in the month, UNMIS/RRR in
Northern Bahr el Ghazal interviewed returnees in Aweil West and East counties to understand the reintegration challenges faced in the area. The respondents highlighted some of their challenges: (1) A substantial number of returnees do not return to their community of origin as upon arrival at many of the reception communities, they find that hosts are very welcoming. They feel encouraged to stay. Also some communities of origin are not suitable for cultivation or construction or/and are insecure thus returnees prefer reception sites, especially female headed household who have no manpower; (2) Land allocated by local authorities and community leaders at reception sites are usually small as host community fears that the land will be exhausted; (3) Most returnees who left their livestock with relatives have not been able to recover them making the reintegration virtually impossible; (4) Returnees, who came in the middle of agricultural season, particularly spontaneous and government organized returns, are more vulnerable as they were late for cultivation and the three months ration is quickly exhausted; and (5) Inadequate community basic services, particularly water, health and education, make many returnees prolong their stay longer at the reception sites. In Upper Nile UNMIS/RRR team visited Melut mid-September and its surrounding areas to conduct post-return monitoring, particularly for those who returned during first half of the year 2008. The returnees arrived mainly from White Nile, Sennar, Umjer, Kenana, Kosti, Rabak and the camps around Khartoum. The team managed to visit a few returnees who arrived in March as part of returns organized by state or county governments. Upon arrival in Melut, county authorities welcomed and received the returnees, who were temporarily accommodated in one of the primary schools in town. Each returning family in these state-organized returns initially received a sack of sorghum. County authorities subsequently allocated plots of land to families interested in settling in Melut town. Nevertheless, returnees are facing some difficulties in terms of finding livelihood opportunities. During the third week of September UNMIS/RRR in Northern Bahr el Ghazal participated in interagency verification of spontaneous returnees at Ariath Payam in Aweil North and in Aweil town. A total 67 households (about 335 individuals) and 56 households (about 348 individuals) were verified at the two locations, respectively. In Aweil East County, 359 households (1,998 individuals) were verified and served while in verification exercise for flood-affected households in Mabok Tong in Aweil East, 1,158 households were verified and issued cards. In Central Equatoria, UNMIS/RRR joined with IOM and SSRRC on 11-12 September to survey the intentions of IDPs in several camps in Juba who expressed continued reservations over the possible renewal of LRA attacks that threaten lives and property, with a special fear of child abduction. Availability of basic services in areas of return was also a great source of concern to this increasingly urbanized population. In South Darfur, on 18 September, UNMIS/RRR visited the southern Sudanese IDPs living outside camps in the Hay Jeer and Hay Malja areas near Nyala. Poor living conditions were observed, with no social services or humanitarian assistance. Current heavy rains are exacerbating the situation, with women and children showing signs of malnutrition. IDP representatives requested RRR to help in mobilizing humanitarian assistance and were directed toward UNAMID/HLRD and OCHA. In Upper Nile State a team of UNHCR, UNMIS UNMIS/RRR and WFP undertook a mission to Fanjak County on 19 September to verify the reported figures of 202 households (2,800 individuals) of spontaneous returnees. The team met the County’s Executive Director and SSRRC officials who confirmed that spontaneous returnees came to Fanjak County but have scattered all over the area without reporting to the concerned officials in Fanjak County Headquarters. The few returnees interviewed confirmed that most people have gone to the surrounding villages in search of their relatives and cultivation. However due to the floods, cultivation has not been successful this year. SSRRC secretary has been tasked to inform those returnees who have not been assisted about their entitlements while the Executive Director is to acquire data and update the team on the latest figure of the returnees who have not received assistance in the county. On 23 September in Southern Kordofan, UNMIS/RRR, UNMIS/PIO and Ruya Association for Development conducted a field visit to Kholiat and Damba villages to monitor the reintegration of returnees into the host communities and to document agricultural activities supported by the local Government, FAO and NGOs. The majority of returnees and host communities in the visited hamlets have expressed satisfaction that they have been able to cultivate land and thus support themselves. However, the chief of Kholiat village reported that poor services and unresolved disputes over land ownership with the neighbouring village (Koya) have compelled a few returnee families to return to the displacement settings.
On 10 September in Western Equatoria, an inter-agency (UNMIS/RRR, HERR, SSRRC, UNICEF and WVI) assessment of the condition of LRA victims in Nzara County was conducted. These IDPs remained determined not to return until a political settlement might be reached between the LRA and the governments in Uganda and the DRC. Local resettlement was cited as the most likely sustainable solution. On 29 September in Western Equatoria, UNMIS/RRR completed the second phase of Joint Verification Mission aimed at verification of Tracked Priority Counties (Yambio, Tambura, Maridi and Mundri West Counties) including the Mvolo County which has no tracking system in place but was covered as a pilot project to further conduct state wide Spontaneous Returnees Verification. The Team conducted simultaneous verifications in the two Counties from 22-28 September, verifying a total of 2,367 individuals (373 households) in Mundri West County and a total of 1,051 individuals (197 households) in Mvolo County. Together with Maridi returnees verified earlier, the total figures for this Second Joint Verification have reached 4,486 individuals (826 households). WFP distributed Family Tokens upon verification and food distributions will follow within next months. The International and Local NGOs on the ground which supported the Joint Verification (StC US and SIDF in Mvolo; Malteser and AAH-I in Maridi; and MRDA and SEM in Mundri West) will finalize verification of outstanding households and submit the forms to WFP through UNMIS/RRR by October 15. Advanced rainy season affected the accessibility of targeted population to verification spots while security in areas of verification was generally good. As a follow up to the assessment mission, on 2 October UNMIS/RRR and the SSRRC State conducted de-briefing discussing main challenges encountered and specific gaps concerning the tracking system and information provided to the Returnees by the SSRRC at County level. The SSRRC stressed the importance of extending the Verification to the five unverified Counties (Nagero; Ezo; Nzara; Ibba; and Mundri West) and proposed eventual refreshment of IOM Tracking training for enumerators working on the field. Challenges facing SSRRC enumerators have been reported in Unity, Warrab and Western Bahr el Ghazal due to road conditions and procedures. In Unity UNMIS/RRR and IOM will regroup payams, bomas and village chiefs to brief on tracking of spontaneous returnees. In Warrab state the constrains in movement and information flow persist despite IOM’s logistical support (Thuraya phones and a motorbike). In Western Bahr el Ghazal, UNMIS/RRR, IOM, WFP, and SSRRC are reviewing the process of tracking and monitoring of returnees, and of the structure and activities of the Reception Committees. On 1 and 2 October in Unity State, UNMIS/RRR, IOM, WFP and SSRRC conducted a joint verification exercise to determine the exact number of spontaneous returnees for the months of August. Upon receipt of the tracking sheets from SSRRC’s spontaneous tracking enumerators from seven out of the nine counties of Unity State, the return partners met and agreed to conduct verification in the three counties of Rubkona, Mayendit and Pariang (Ruweng). The joint verification exercise is still on going and the actual figure will be released once verification exercise is complete.
Operational Planning In preparation for the upcoming planning exercise for 2009, team leaders from UNMIS/RRR field locations around the country gathered in Khartoum for a workshop on 18 September to assess lessons learned over the past year, as well as to discuss future directions for the section, which will focus increasingly on early reintegration activities.
Capacity-Building In South Kordofan, on 4-6 September, UNMIS/RRR was invited to attend the capacity-building workshop for women organized in Kadugli by the NGO Ruya Association, PACT/Sudan and the Southern Kordofan Women’s Forum for Peace and Development. This was a follow-up to a previous workshop to focus on different ways for empowering women to play an important role in establishing sustainable peace and stability in the state. Sudan Information Campaign for Return (SICR) In Khartoum, UNMIS/RRR facilitated and introduced the SICR Co-ordinator from UNICEF to
the camp-level Return Committees in Jebel Awlia on 2 September and in Mayo on 3 September. The main purpose of the meetings was to discuss the possibility of contracting the CBOs to implement SICR activities in the camps, such as information dissemination through focus-group discussions, dialogues and radio-listening groups. The CBOs will be given small grant of US$10,000 in a pilot programme until the end of the year. Extension of the contract will be conditional on evaluation of achievements during the trial period.
Key Challenges/Priorities: Follow up monitoring of the situation of those who have returned Follow up with agencies to identify any gaps in reintegration assistance Planning of organized return and reintegration programming for the next season Signature head of unit or designate: Signature head of agency/division or designate: Marie-France Heliere