JUBA, South Sudan
More than 6,000 South Sudanese who were displaced from their homes by the almost four-year long civil war have returned to their homes, the head of the UN mission in South Sudan said Wednesday.
“The number of [internally] displaced people living in the UNMISS Protection of Civilians site has fallen from 38,000 to 32,500 over the last two months. Many of those people have returned home to cultivate their land,” said David Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General.
The return of displaced people to their homes in Wau town in northwestern South Sudan could provide a “model” for other parts of the country, Shearer told reporters in Juba before heading off to Wau.
“The security situation has improved in recent weeks,” he said, adding “It is important that people return to their homes voluntarily, and for that to happen they need to feel safe and confident about their future”.
The situation in Upper Nile in South Sudan’s North has also improved, enabling over 1,000 displaced people to return to their homes, according to Shearer, who described the return as a “significant trend, and a significant number” but cautioned that this was “only a fraction” of an estimated 4 million South Sudanese displaced by the war.
South Sudan has been mired in conflict between the government of President Salva Kiir and rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar since December 2013.