Southern Sudan: JRS Yei helps Congolese refugees displaced by LRA
29 July 2009

Nyori refugee settlement near Yei, Southern Sudan. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
Washington Kaira, deputy head of UNHCR’s Yei Office, has expressed UNHCR’s gratitude for the donation, describing it as 'timely and wonderful'.
Yei, 29 July 2009 JRS Yei has recently undertaken a number of activities to help Congolese refugees displaced by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and currently sheltering in the Nyori refugee settlement in Lasu Payam (County), Southern Sudan, some 25 miles from Yei.

After 39 teachers initiated primary school classes under some trees in the settlement, JRS distributed start-up teaching materials like blackboards, chalk, exercise books and pens pending the commencement of a larger scale education program by ACROSS, which is now assisting the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) with general camp management. Over 1000 pupils who are currently attending P1-P6 lessons in French, following the Congolese curriculum, benefit from these materials.

Two months ago, 12 teachers also started teaching secondary lessons in the afternoon currently attended by 133 students. Twelve girls were selected for inclusion in the JRS sponsorship programme, starting their S1 studies at Yei Girls boarding school at the start of the second term. Although they are still struggling with language problems they have settled in well thanks to the support from fellow students and teachers.

Furthermore, JRS is providing opportunities for catechists and other refugees in the settlement to participate in JRS's pastoral programme, including religious formation and training in income-generating activities like soap making.

Donating food to a growing community

Early this year, JRS added the Nyori Primary School, a government school adjacent to the refugee settlement, to the 19 other primary schools that JRS assists in Yei County. Support is currently provided in the form of field visits and in-service teacher and school manager training opportunities. Depending on the availability of funds, JRS will consider to extend its help supporting the school with construction and/or rehabilitation of classrooms and the provision of school furniture.

JRS has also assisted Caritas in facilitating a major donation of food and non-food items to refugees in Nyori refugee settlement. The distribution of the items will be integrated with the distribution of items provided by the UN World Food Programme which normally conducts distributions each fortnight. Caritas's donation will provide approximately 43% of the sorghum, 31% of the beans, 78% of the salt, and 100% of the cooking oil needed for one distribution to the current population of refugees in the settlement. 

Washington Kaira, deputy head of UNHCR’s Yei Office, has expressed UNHCR’s gratitude for the donation, describing it as 'timely and wonderful'. Arrangements for collecting and transporting the items to the settlement are currently being finalised.  

Since the beginning of this year, there was an influx of Congolese to Nyori refugee settlement, which now hosts over 7,700 refugees. Families have each been assigned 20m2 for housing and 30 m2 for farming. Basic health care is provided by Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF). Due to ongoing security fears associated with LRA activity over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the negative flow-on effect on farming activity and food availability, the number of refugees continues to grow.

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