Influx of Returnees to South Sudan Poses Huge Challenge to Africa's Newest State, Warns Plan International

Feb 07, 2011, 17:20 ET from Plan International USA

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the vote for secession in Southern Sudan reaches its conclusion, Gezahegn Kebede, Regional Director for Plan, said: "One of the biggest challenges we must deal with now is the influx of returnees, most of who had moved to the North during more than a decade of political turmoil in South Sudan."

The massive number of returnees, which is estimated at between 850,000 to 1.5 million, is expected to cause severe shortages of water, shelter, and health care and sanitation services. There are also fears that 2.7 million people could suffer food shortages.

"People are already starting to feel the pinch as the social services are failing to cope with the influx. More schools, health services and food are needed for the returnees," Kebede said.

Access to affordable food is proving difficult for returnees and the rest of the Southern Sudanese population. As demand for resources increase, the price of basic commodities such as flour, sugar, beans and rice has risen sharply, especially in the border areas.

Plan and other organizations are monitoring the situation in the event that emergency food aid is needed in the coming weeks and months.

Editor's notes:

Over the past five years, Plan has been working with the South Sudan government to rebuild the country after more than two decades of civil war killed two million people and displaced four million.

Two independent feasibility studies carried out in Canada concluded that increasing vocational training and skills for young people is essential for helping secure the country's peaceful future.

One hundred and fifty students have now enrolled at the Plan-supported Juba Technical High School, which provides marginalized communities - especially young people and former child soldiers - with skills training in subjects from electronics to hospitality.

Founded more than 70 years ago, Plan is a child-centered nonprofit with no religious or political affiliations. Plan works in 48 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, empowering millions of children, families, and communities to lift themselves out of poverty using methods that are innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable.

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SOURCE Plan International USA