SOUTH SUDAN RETURNEES
By Paul Ndiho
August 26, 2011
Since attaining its independence in July, citizens of South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, are returning home from Khartoum to take part in the rebuilding of their country.
Having fled southern Sudan during decades of war, hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese are returning home to drink in the spirit of their month-old republic.
Since last year, the United Nations says over 300,000 South Sudanese have travelled by barge, train and bus back to their homeland, gathering in a place near the border that they have dubbed “New Khartoum.”
“This Khartoum is better than the old one. This is the place where I was born. It is my home. I was only displaced from here to the other Khartoum. Now I have come back to my real Khartoum. This is my home.”
Many of the returnees are brimming with patriotism for their new country, but the reality of rebuilding a nation after years of war and neglect is proving to be a challenge.
South Sudan is poorly developed, and Warrup is the fledgling country’s least developed state. Some already say they miss the comforts of old Khartoum in the north.
“I prefer the north. It is beautiful. They have buildings and electricity and things,”
Swapping from urban to rural life can be difficult, and Warrup state governor Nyandeng Malek has called for South Sudanese to take land on the periphery of Kuajok, causing its population to double. But her generosity is stretching the limited resources of the state. 64 percent of the population in Warrup state lives below the poverty line, and many are in need of food.
“When they went to Khartoum, they went fleeing the war, the hunger and all that. Now we have our country so we are still asking more of them to come. When they come it is better for them. Being in your country, there is nothing like it.”
According to the United Nations, some 20,000 people are waiting for their land in South Sudan, while another 60,000 people are yet to return from the North which is likely to put further pressure on states in the south like Warrup.
The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.