When everything is said and done, after a humanitarian crisis ends, it is the hope of everyone involved that internally displaced peoples and refugees will be able to return home. So while the situation may have come to an end, the role of humanitarian aid organisations must continue. In the aftermath of such events, as communities and families search for a return to normalcy, these organisations and aid workers attempt to help pick up the pieces and rebuild.

A report from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on 25 January 2019 details the return of 12,000 refugees and internally displaced families to South Sudan, in the wake of a new peace agreement and United Nations peacekeeping forces. The violence brought on by civil war in South Sudan has not completely subsided, but this return to the area is aided by confidence in the security provided by UNMISS; as more people return home, others follow suit.

Despite the risk of resurgent violence, in the form of cattle raids, child abduction, and civilian killings, UNMISS and other humanitarian organisations hope to aid those who have returned by providing immediate relief where needed, and giving them tools to support themselves and build a new life. This includes supplies to grow crops, and fish in nearby rivers, as well as the development of small businesses. UNMISS also holds workshops where returnees can voice their concerns and needs in returning home. Safety and shelter are the top priority for most, and a hope that returning home will be worth the risk.

The journey home is not always straightforward, and returnees can face issues with getting back into their home country. This can take many forms: harassment at the border, insecurity along transportation routes, and violence from armed groups. It can be difficult to find enduring solutions that will provide stability and success to those who choose to return home, and aid organisations play a large role in this process, which is often highly dynamic and time-consuming. Even once a crisis is perceived to have ended, it can be decades before it becomes viable for families and individuals displaced by conflict or disaster to return home.

On 14 December 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a framework for aiding in these return operations, referred to as Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR). The framework aims to assist practitioners and policy makers in implementing mechanisms to aid those affected individuals who hope to return home after a humanitarian crisis. The full document can be found here.

Access to basic services and infrastructure can be lacking in areas following humanitarian situations. Something as seemingly simple as attaining official identification can be a barrier to those returning home. Humanitarian organisations, in cooperation with local governments, play an essential role in ensuring that those who wish to return home are able to do so safely and successfully.




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Image courtesy of UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran via Flickr

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