Authorities in Ameth-Aguok County in Abyei Administrative Area have started construction of grass thatched houses for returnees.
The project kicked off 2 weeks ago with 23 houses currently under construction in Dungob – the county headquarters located east of Abyei Town.
The scheme funded by Abyei Administration is part of making voluntary return of the internally displaced persons to their homes attractive.
In 2011, fighting between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) caused a huge-southward displacement of people from villages located north of the river locally known as Kiir. UNHCR’s news publication at that time shows that over 59,000 people were displaced to Agok in Abyei itself and to neighbouring states including Warrap while some media outlets put it above 80,000.
Since then, the security situation in the contested Abyei region has not improved. Violence continues to displace more civilians and claim lives.
In 2020, more than 700 families from Kolom and its neighbouring villages (Dokora, Noong and Amiet) fled to Abyei Town following a deadly armed attack that left more than 30 civilians including children and women dead in Kolom village. In the same year, some unknown number of people fled homes in Dungob because of armed attacks. Some of these people have voluntarily returned to their homes but others are still irresolute in Abyei Town.
The Caretaker Commissioner of Ameth-Aguok County, Nyok Deng Rou says the returnees’ housing project was initiated to encourage people to return to their villages.
“I want to tell them to prepare for the return. Let people go and start working now. Suppose youths should go to prepare farms and do cleaning, so people come and work when rainy season begins,” Deng said.
Nyok has promised to put up similar tukuls in Wun Kiir or Miyen Koor in the same county for those who may return. Nyok said so far, more than a million South Sudanese Pounds has been spent on this project.
Deng Bol, about 50-year-old man who fled Dungob to live in Abyei Town has welcomed the project.
“It is good if that the commissioner has built for us houses. We will return. We were not able to build a shelter for ourselves. We are tired of staying in the town. Everyone here sees that village is important. So, we go and clean our farm,” Bol said.