February 5, 2008 (NSV)
In a meeting held in Khartoum, 625 chiefs from southern Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile gathered to acquaint themselves with the problem of repatriating IDPs from the camps in northern Sudan. The chiefs will be out for IDP camps with a unified mission to encourage their subjects to voluntarily return to their native regions once devastated by long years of destruction and insecurity. There are about 4, 456, 000 IDPs in fifteen states in northern Sudan. Majority are in Kordofan, Darfur and Khartoum. Since the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement in 2005, hundreds of thousands of IDPs in northern Sudan remained desperate to return to their villages.
In their meeting, the chiefs agreed to tour all northern Sudanese towns and villages to ascertain the real needs of the IDPs who favor voluntary return to southern Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The South Sudan Council of Chiefs head, Chief Deng Macham told the gathering that; "We are going out in all the states in the north, we shall ask the people if anybody wants to go to the south, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, he or she should register with all the entire family. We shall send cars and transport, there are no preconditions."
One of the most important issues both the government of national unity and the government of southern Sudan are faced with, is the voluntary repatriation of IDPs from northern Sudan. Only lest than 100, 000 IDPs has made it home from the camps in northern Sudan. During the war, IDPs who got settled in northern Sudan suffered untold discrimination as housing, education, health, and general survival became difficult for them. Often marginalized at the peripheries, some of the widowed IDPs resorted to illegal brewing of liquor and landed themselves in jails with maximum imprisonment ranging from six to two years and a payment of millions of Pounds to northern Sudan courts as fines. Searches by Sudan police force for alcoholic ingredients carry racial and religious bias, which angers IDPs in northern Sudan and encourages them to go home to avoid such humiliation.
Madam Angelina Teny, state minister in the ministry of energy gave strong encouragement for the expectant chiefs and the citizens of southern Sudan; "We are encouraging chiefs and citizens to go home because they will be settled, they will have security and economically they will be at peace."
In the process to facilitate, the return of IDPs in their regions of origin, a high level committee was formed; it will be composed of the UN, NCP and SPLM. Second VP, Ali Osman Taha will head the committee to be assisted by Deng Alor, Sudan's foreign minister.
IDPs who have since gone home are faced with underdevelopment and presence of basic services, insecurity and settlement in old lands they left more than two decades ago.
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