Hunger crisis grips Aweil returnees as thousands struggle for aid

Thousands of Aweil returnees displaced by the Sudan conflict are starving as they struggle to access food aid, with allegations of unfair distribution practices emerging amid the crisis.

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Tens of thousands of returnees living in makeshift shelters in Aweil who fled the Sudan conflict that erupted in April last year have plunged into a hunger crisis as some go to bed on empty stomachs. Some of the 11,690 Aweil returnees claim they get denied access to food assistance even if they present their cards.

Abuk Garang, one of the returnees who was lifted from Renk to Aweil and got back to her ancestral home in Wanjok, Aweil East County, says nothing has been given to her, though they were promised support since she landed at the Aweil airstrip in November last year.

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“I have never been supplied any food items, but some are being supported, and it is a ploy that the chiefs use when registration occurs,” claims Abuk.


“You find that they register their relatives who didn’t come from Sudan, and when we ask them, they say that these are legitimate people like us who deserve humanitarian assistance, which is not true,” she argues.

Another returnee, Akiir Dut Lual, said she returned through the route of Majok-Yiththiou and never got any support. “As I speak to you, nothing has been given to me, and I am glad that I made it back to my country, but the problem is that my kids never got assistance, let alone a lack of scholastic materials.”

“Now my kids want to go to a nearby school, and I don’t have any finances to buy them school materials, so I was airlifted from Renk to Aweil. How could we survive when the government officials and chiefs are not attentive to our problems,” she told Talk of Juba.

Talk of Juba attempted to get responses from women leaders who work collaboratively with chiefs to do registration. Akoor Yom, who lives at Madhol Payam in Aweil East County, said that some of the returnees come spontaneously without cards.

“When we try to register them, it becomes hard as international organizations need them to show cards to authenticate their claims that they are returnees, and that is why it gets harder to determine who is a returnee and who isn’t,” emphasized Akoor.

Akoor Yom says they are working hard to ensure that the witnesses come with them so that in the next phase of distribution they will be served.

Chief Amet Mabior said that they don’t discriminate against these people or their places of origin, but the number is overstretched or getting huge.

“The international organizations have their own rules, and it is because everyone is vulnerable, and that is why you find them complaining a lot. We don’t have any ill-intentions against these people. They are our people who have returned like anyone else. Their concerns are genuine, and it is hard to tell who has returned through other means, though not airlifted with cards,” he reiterated.

Relief and Rehabilitation Commission Enumerator Mr. Dut Garang Deng said they will screen those who have not received by giving them short interviews and go to their residences to see whether they meet the criteria.

The international organisations, in collaboration with government officials, say they will be working together to rehabilitate these tens of thousands of returnees and refugees camping in Wadwill in Aweil West and some residing in different places such as Majok-Yith Thiou and Rumaker, respectively.

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