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UNHCR launches series of new community projects in south Sudan

Briefing notes

UNHCR launches series of new community projects in south Sudan

1 April 2005

UNHCR and its partners are launching a series of new community projects in south Sudan next week to help rehabilitate communities and prepare the way for reintegration of the many thousands of displaced people and refugees who may return this year.

Some 550,000 refugees and an estimated 4 million displaced people within Sudan remain uprooted following the decades-long conflict, officially brought to an end by the January 9 peace deal between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement / Army. These millions of people could now potentially return home to a region that has been totally devastated by conflict and lacks even minimal basic infrastructure and services. In late February, UNHCR deployed an emergency team of experts in fields such as water, sanitation, community services, health, and income generation to begin reintegration projects to help communities cope with the returns.

The projects starting up this coming week include support to primary health care facilities and HIV awareness / AIDS treatment activities in Kajo Keji and Yei counties, near the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Another project will build a dormitory for students at a vocational training school in Yei, while a third will rehabilitate 11 primary and secondary schools, promote education for girls, train teachers and set up income generating activities for volunteer teachers in Yei county.

These new projects add to several already underway in the war-damaged region. UNHCR and its partners are rehabilitating boreholes to provide clean water to communities in Yei and Kajo Keji counties and training village committees on proper water management. Public health centres and the regional hospital are being rehabilitated and basic medical supplies, equipment and training will be provided in Ezo and Yei counties. Electrical systems are being installed, the paediatric ward rehabilitated and a new paediatric wing constructed in the Bahr El Gazal Regional Hospital in Rumbek, the only referral hospital in the province.

More projects on education, health, water, income generation, and community services are being developed for implementation in the near future.

To support these efforts, UNHCR has recently expanded its presence in southern Sudan, adding to its existing offices in Rumbek, Juba and Yei. UNHCR established a presence in Yambio on March 6 and in Kajo Keji on March 9.

The community-based reintegration projects are being implemented by a number of partners, including Norwegian Peoples' Aid, Jesuit Refugee Services, Comitato Collaborazione Medica, International Aid Services, the American Refugee Committee, Action Africa Help International and the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Diocese of Yei.