Minenaufklärung im Sudan
Zusammen mit der sudanesischen Partnerorganisation JASMAR klärt die britische Organisation Mines Advisory Group Rückkehrer in den Sudan über die Minengefahr auf. (in Englisch)
N.SUDAN: Returnees hope for a life of peace and security
In partnership with Sudanese human security organisation JASMAR, MAG has been giving Mine Risk Education at Kosti way station1 in North Sudan, where thousands of returnees are waiting to board barges to take them to the South.
As of 30 June, the number of returnees at the Kosti way station is estimated to be more than 16,000 people, according to the United Nations' Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
It is overflowing with thousands of southerners uprooted during the country’s brutal civil war and now trying to return along the river to their hometowns, ahead of the South's independence on 9 July.
From a young age, Sudan’s conflict led Ekhlas down a long and difficult path: an arduous journey from which she is now trying to return in order to start anew.
Although she has been in Kosti for 21 days, waiting for her turn to take the barge, and has no idea when she may be leaving, she is patient and just happy that she is on her way back.
“I plan to go to the market, to work in the market again,” she says. “I have a small business plan selling Sudanese women’s perfume. The perfume is the only thing I have got right now. I even have some with me here. When I sell this, I will get more to sell in the market.
“I am concerned though about the mines and things left over from the war, because I have heard stories. Not only stories, I have also seen people that have had accidents and injuries caused by landmines.
“It has crossed my mind that in the tall grasses or in some farming areas, these things may still be there. My boy is four years old and my daughter is 16. There is fear amongst all of us caused by the bombs and other things left over from the war.”
Ekhlas recently attended a Mine Risk Education (MRE) class in the way station, conducted by a DFID-funded Community Liaison team.
MRE educates communities about the dangers posed by remnants of conflict, in the form of tailored safety messages to those most under threat – such as returnees, who are often unaware of the potential threat from landmines and unexploded ordnance on the way to, and at, their destination.
“The education was good,” she says. “I still have the leaflets, because it was good to be aware of the danger from landmines and bombs. I was born in the South, but I left when I was very young.
“I think everything has changed. It is like going back to a new place. I know now that I will have to walk in the places people used to go. I feel safer for me and for my children after the education.”
Ekhlas looks around the small space that, for the moment, is her home. Her gaze then settles on the open end of the shelter, past the ramshackle, crowded muddle of the camp towards the banks of the White Nile.
Here, a barge is being loaded to take another group of displaced southerners to what will soon become the world’s newest nation.
“I just want to be safe in the South. Because of the war I have been away for a long time. I am going to start again from the beginning. I am going to start a new life. I am hoping for a life of peace and security in a safe place.”
Note: 1 A way station is a facility set up for internally displaced people and refugees to stay while they await transport back to their home communities. Way stations can be one of the few places where MAG can access returnees for a long enough period to carry out MRE work effectively.
MAG’s team in Kosti is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) / UKaid.