The people of Motti, a village in Eastern Equatoria, have been through a few dark years since 2016, when violence put an end to life as they knew it and forced them to flee. Now, the revitalized peace agreement seems to be turning the tide, with many displaced families talking about returning.
“The security situation has improved. We can travel to and from Torit [some 45 minutes away] as we please, even at night. This is why we want to return home,” says William Otek, Motti’s Chief.
He adds that most houses were destroyed at the peak of the war, which means that he and his community are still staying in the bush near the village.
Resuming their lives as it used to be won’t happen overnight, however. The clinic, the primary school and other basic facilities serving the more than thousand families will need to be re-established, and the now impoverished citizens will need humanitarian assistance.
“When the war broke out I fled with other families for safety, carrying with me a few boxes of chalk and one slate of chalkboard. I have been teaching the children under trees at our camp with the help of the chalks and the slate,” says Solomon Fidele, Headmaster of the Motti primary school.
While basic education may still have been possible, offering medical assistance has not, much to the frustration of the health workers of the village, which is situated in an opposition-controlled area.
“It is very difficult to look on helplessly while people are plagued with sickness and disease because the clinic is closed,” Zacharia Miang laments.
The Motti misery may, however, be about to come to an end, with an improved security situation enabling free movement. To make it possible, local authorities are calling on the government and humanitarian partners to provide the assistance needed to re-open facilities and cater to the basic needs of returnees.
“Citizens now move freely without fear. I urge the international community and the United Nations to support the people of Motti to return to their village,” says Odongi Victor, an official in the opposition-controlled area.
When the residents of Motti return they will at least be greeted by one familiar facility: the community orphanage. The centre, while sometimes frighteningly close to the crossfire, has managed to maintain its activities, not least thanks to a degree of security provided by patrols conducted by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.