The return of thousands of displaced people to southern Sudan could cause chaos unless conditions improve there improve rapidly, a U.N. official said Wednesday. The United Nations is not encouraging people to return now that the southern Sudan civil war is over, but it is urgently trying to step up protection for the 500,000 Sudanese expected to head home in the next six months, said Dennis McNamara, who heads the U.N. humanitarian office's internal displacement division.
The United Nations is asking for US$48 million (40 million) to help provide shelter along the way for those traveling across the country by bus, barge and foot, McNamara said.
"People are returning to towns and villages that often have no schools, no health clinics, few roads and little security," he said. McNamara said the situation could become "chaotic" if the Sudanese government and international donors do not act immediately to provide public services, warning that south Sudan's tenuous peace deal could unravel.
Sudan's new national unity Cabinet was sworn in last month after a peace deal ended over two decades of conflict between the Muslim Arab-led government in Khartoum and the mostly Christian and animist south, led by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. The conflict displaced some 4 million people, more than any other conflict in the world, he said, reports the AP. I.L.