New community projects to start in southern Sudan
RUMBEK, Sudan, April 1 (UNHCR) - A new series of health and education projects in southern Sudan is set to start next week to help rehabilitate communities and pave the way for potential refugee returns this year.
Launched by the UN refugee agency and its partners, the new community projects include support to primary health care facilities, and activities relating to HIV awareness and AIDS treatment in Kajo Keji and Yei counties, near the borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. A dormitory will be built for students at a vocational training school in Yei. The county will also benefit from efforts to rehabilitate 11 primary and secondary schools, promote education for girls, train teachers and set up income generating activities for volunteer teachers.
These new initiatives will complement existing projects in a region devastated by decades of conflict. Recognising that providing clean water is a priority, UNHCR and its partners are currently rehabilitating boreholes in Yei and Kajo Keji counties and training village committees on proper water management.
The agencies are also rehabilitating public health centres and the regional hospital and providing basic medical supplies, equipment and training 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.
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.
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 recently expanded its presence in southern Sudan, opening an office in Yambio on March 6 and in Kajo Keji on March 9 to complement its existing offices in Rumbek, Juba and Yei.
In late February, the refugee agency had deployed an emergency team of experts in fields such as water, sanitation, community services, health, and income generation to begin the reintegration projects. Some of the 550,000 Sudanese refugees and estimated 4 million internally displaced Sudanese could start going home this year following the signing of a peace deal between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army on January 9 this year.