The rainy season has just begun in South Sudan: good news for the farmers who can now prepare their fields. But for the IDPs sheltering in Yei, the rains further exacerbate their already dire living conditions. A South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission official says the rains have flooded the shelters of over 4,000 IDPs, mostly women and children who escaped violecne in the Western Equatoria region last year.
Ezekiel Justin is the chairman of the IDPs in Yei. He says after they were displaced the UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) provided plastic sheets, but they are not enough, adding that live in the camp during the rainy season is very difficult. “If it rains, our house inside is always covered with water,” Ezekiel says.
IDPs lack food, healthcare and education
Arkangilo Sebit is the chairperson of the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Yei. Sebit says it has been very difficult to care for the IDPs, adding that Yei River State needs financial support to cater for the IDPs. “Food is not regularly; there hasn’t been any service of health,” he says.
UNHCR is the only organisation providing food to the IDPs in Yei, but according to Sebit it is only provided on a three-monthly basis. He called on the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to provide assistance for the IDPs in Yei.
Children in the IDP camp do not attend school, as their parents can’t afford the tuition fees. Thirty-year-old Charity Justin has five children who don’t attend school at the moment. Charity says she works hard to make sure that her children have food to eat and she hopes that she will be able to send them to school in the near future.
She says she could cultivate enough food for her family, if land would be provided. “If the government gives us land we can cultivate and push life. We run up and down to look for money to buy and change our food with greens. Now as rain has started, we have planted greens in our camp,” she says.
The future of IDPs in Yei
The repatriation of IDPs was one of the priorities of the TGoNU, but so far little has happened, as insecurity and fighting between armed groups and government forces continue despite the August 2015 peace agreement. Sebit however says he expects the IDPs to return home soon, adding that plans are on the way to identify and repatriate those who feel it is safe to return home.
However, many displaced people in Yei say they still fear to return home, and only would do so if they are assured of a safe-passage home and if the security situation in the Western Equatoria region has improved.