EU, UN agencies launch $26.5 project to support areas affected by displacement and returns

The European Union and a number of United Nations agencies on Tuesday launched a $26.5 project in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State.

The European Union and a number of United Nations agencies on Tuesday launched a $26.5 project in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State.

It is expected that more than 120,000 people will benefit from the project aimed at strengthening education and social cohesion in areas where there are high numbers of displaced people or returnees.

The European Union (EU), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched the project in Wau town. The EU funds this project, which the IOM, the WFP and UNICEF are jointly implementing.

‘’Education is a fundamental right of every child. No child should be left behind. Children living in a context of fragility, internally displaced, returnee and refugee children should therefore equally benefit from an enabling learning environment and be supported to acquire knowledge and skills,” says Gabriel Leonte, EU Delegation’s Head of Cooperation Section.

“Education is an investment in the future of South Sudan; a future that should bring peace and socio-economic opportunities for the people of South Sudan. To achieve these valuable objectives, we call for a renewed partnership and strong government ownership, leadership, and accountability at all levels so that every child can exercise their fundamental right to education.’’

There are more than two million displaced people in South Sudan. Those who return to their homes often face new challenges such as ongoing conflict, climate-related shocks, prolonged food insecurity, hyperinflation, and unemployment that all converge to erode livelihoods and coping strategies.

“This initiative is more than just a one-off – it is part of a larger developmental vision. By embracing an integrated multi-sectoral approach focusing on displaced populations and host communities, we are laying down roots for self-sufficiency and resilient communities. To ensure South Sudan reaches its full potential and its people lead dignified lives, our focus must shift from mere humanitarian assistance efforts to tangible development across the country,” says John McCue, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission a.i.

One of the significant challenges facing South Sudan is the 2.8 million children who are out of school, which increases their psychological distress and vulnerability to violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

“Education is the key to building a more peaceful, prosperous, and resilient South Sudan, especially for displaced persons and returnees. This project will provide the much-needed support for an inclusive and gender-responsive quality   education, helping children access quality learning and contribute to more resilient communities across the country,” says Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF South Sudan Representative.

The project aims to support returnees in rebuilding their lives and creating a better future for their children, particularly focusing on inclusive and gender responsive quality education, sustainable livelihoods, school feeding, climate resilience, and activities to promote social cohesion.  The project also seeks to enhance adult literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills. It is a shining example of the international community’s commitment to helping South Sudan achieve peace, stability, and sustainable development.

”Support for families as they return to their homes and rebuild their lives is critical, particularly for children who remain at risk of being kept from the classroom in a context of growing food insecurity. For the future of South Sudan, we need these investments in programmes such as School Meals, Nutrition treatment and prevention, and improving livelihoods which is why this funding from the European Union has been so important,” said Makena Walker, Acting Country Director for WFP in South Sudan. 

For her part, Western Bahr el Ghazal state governor Sarah Cleto Rial welcomed the project in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap states.

“I thank the EU for bringing us this project in Western Bahr el Ghazal state. I really thank those who have worked hard to come and build 100 classrooms in Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal states, these 100 classrooms is not easy and also the project will provide clean drinking water, health and agriculture sectors within this project,” said Cleto.

Sarah urged the people of Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal states to stand together with the project to benefit the population.