Despite peace, displaced S. Sudanese denied their homes

By Benjamin Takpiny

JUBA, South Sudan (AA) – A South Sudanese man has vowed not to leave the internally displaced people’s camps under the UN mission in the capital Juba.

The worry of Tap Lual Wuol is where to go after his house in Juba was occupied as he fled for dear life when crisis broke out in the country’s capital in 2013.

“We can't go home because our houses are occupied,” the 33-year-old told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

“Our living conditions are very bad on a daily basis and there is nowhere to go,” he said.

“We don’t trust the parties – whatever they agree might collapse anytime because they don’t stick to what they have agreed.”

He was referring to a peace deal reached in September 2018 which has relatively pacified the country, and yet displaced people are stuck in the camps.

The deal calls for evacuation of civilian houses and premises as well as educational and health facilities by armed forces.

– War and peace

South Sudan plunged into war in 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

Under the peace deal signed last year, Kiir had agreed to set up a unity government with Machar. But the formation of the new government, initially scheduled to take office on May 12, was postponed for six months.

The UN mission in a statement on July 8 said the number still seeking protection on its bases around the country is 180,909 people.

A ceasefire monitoring team instituted by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development said in June that civilian premises remain fully occupied by armed groups including the government army and main opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition.

While it did not mention how many civilian homes were affected, the team said it recorded 54 civilian buildings including 52 by the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces and two by the SPLM/A-IO.

They urged the forces in “a matter of urgency” to “vacate civilian facilities immediately.”

According to Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro who is also a member of the National Pre-Transitional Committee which was formed to plan a unity government as part of the country’s peace deal, people whose houses have been occupied should seek redress with the authorities so that the issue is addressed.

“There is a committee formed by the president to look into the houses occupied by forces or individuals,” Lomuro said in an interview with Anadolu Agency in Juba on July 09.

“If they come and inform us, the law will take its course,” he said.

For Monyjok Dol Maper, who is still holed up in the UN Mission base in Malakal, action must be taken immediately to force squatters out of their homes.

“I just cannot go home for fear of those who occupied my house,” Maper said without naming the occupants.

“Despite the peace deal, tribulation still troubles me,” he added.