Government Appreciates UNHCR’s Funding For Road Rehab

The state Government of Eastern Equatoria State (EES) expressed sincere appreciation to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for its financial, technical and logistical support for rehabilitation of the 19 Kilometre Nimule-Melijo road through Health Link South Sudan (HLSS).

The road is an effort to bring humanitarian to Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps.  The implementing agency HLSS has started the rehabilitation of the access road between Nimule and Melijo of Magwi County in the EES). Gurtong witnessed the commencement of the roadwork this week.

Speaking to Gurtong, the EES Gender, Culture and Social Development Minister, Paska Hifita Oduho, expressed gratitude, saying that what the UNHCR has done would never be forgotten. Prior to this, the road linking Nimule to Melijo), it was headache getting into the IDPs with humanitarian services.

She advised the HLSS to do a good job by constructing a good road to be used in the future even if the present situation of the IDPs will be treated as a short-term program, which is only to open corridors for humanitarian services.

Minister Hifita called for continuous cooperation from the UNHCR with her government to realizeeffective performance on service delivery in the state.

Encouraging the HLSS to demonstrate a true commitment in discharging their duties with regard to quality work on the road constructions, Hon. Hifita said that what is happening is part of the implementation of her government’s policy of providing people with better services they do not have access to.

“Road construction is an expensive venture. We are clearing Nimule-Melijo road, fixing two Irish bridges and six culverts at hot spots along the 19 km road. We expect this work to be completed by the first week of October,” said Joseph Gama, HLSS’ Operations Manager.

The poor state of the road has been a huge obstacle to aid agencies operating there.  “This road rehabilitation would help in quick relief and camp coordination, information gathering and identification of gaps so that partners can quickly and accordingly respond,” Gama said.

 The Chief Area Administrator, Mr Emilio Igga, welcomed the rehabilitation, saying it is overdue.

 “Many times relief food trucks got stuck on the road. Unless you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can’t go to Melijo. The Nimule-Melijo road rehabilitation is important for effective provision of humanitarian services for the IDPs in Melijo,” Igga said.

He added:  “Without accessibility, nothing can go to these people. These are human beings for whom humanitarian actors have shown up to give assistance. They don’t have proper health facilities in Melijo; for any patient to reach Nimule hospital, the road must be accessible. Good road is also good for security reasons.”

The area administrator also urged humanitarian actors to provide the IDPs with farming inputs,health services and more shelter materials.

On the dispute between the host community and the IDPs, Igga urged both parties to cooperate, saying a memorandum of understanding is being developed to guide the settlement in the camp.  

To ensure ownership and effective implementation of projects such as the road repair, CampCoordination and Camp Management (CCCM), HLSS involves the Area Administrator, the county Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) Coordinator, representatives of the IDPs and host community.  

Mr Gama appealed to humanitarian partners in the area to mobilise more resources for the IDPs as most of them are hesitant to return home any time soon due to fear.  Since the internal armed conflict erupted in Juba late last year and quickly spread to other state capitals, EES became home to over 35,000 IDPs, 5,000 of whom camped in Melijo as majority crossed the border to East Africa.

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