JUBA: The first batch of 148 South Sudanese returnees out of 15,000 who have been stranded for months in Kosti, in Sudan's White Nile state have arrived in Juba.
The returnees arrived in Juba from Khartoum today aboard an IOM chartered plane.
They were received at Juba airport by government officials led by the minister of Humanitarian affairs, Joseph Lual and humanitarian agencies.
Lual said that in the subsequent flights, 1000 returnees will be airlifted every day until all the Southerners in Kosti and other areas are returned.
The minister said that government and humanitarian agencies are ensuring that the returnees get assistance and are settled.
“What we have to do at the moment is to provide humanitarian aid and settle them in their original home areas,”he said.
Health workers immunized children aged 0-5 years against the six killer diseases, and mothers aged 15-49 received anti tetanus injections.
The health workers were working in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross workers who were at hand to provide first aid.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) representative in South Sudan, Mireille Girard said they would provide the homeless in Juba with shelter, sanitary facilities and food until they get back to their home origin. She said UNHCR would also provide recreation facilities for the children.
The joy of returning home was expressed clearly expressed by one of the returnees, Yolanda Tombek, who said she was proud after arriving home.
“This is my home. I feel proud after arriving home,” she said. Tombek sadi her place of origin is Gumbo in Juba county.
Tombek said that they had been treated well in Kosti where UN humanitarian agencies provided them with food as they waited to be repatriated.
The deputy Governor of Central Equatoria, Manase Lomole told journalists at the airport that most returnees coming through Juba are from his state and reception centres had been prepared for them..
“We are expecting a big number to arrive home, and the state authorities have prepared Kuda ,Terekeka county where the state will temporary settle them,”
Others he said will be settled at a school in Munuki, Hai Gabat and Rombur in Juba county.
Lomole called on the state county commissioners to ensure that the returnees are helped in settling back in their original villages and provided with basic services.
“We want the commissioners at counties to provide health, education and other services, including plots to the returnees who do not have land,” he said.
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Friday, 7 September 2012