Refugees can be happy

There was no wailing, weeping nor gnashing of teeth as the families shuffled gingerly off the truck.

But contrary to expectations, these refugees are happy to be home.

More than 300 men, women and their young children, deemed to be South Sudanese by place of birth or bloodline, finally made their way back to Juba today. Their arduous journey began months ago when they were expelled by Khartoum following the secession of South Sudan. They travelled by road for months to reach the South Sudan border, followed by a further 2-week long barge journey to arrive in the capital city.

Camped at a “way station” on the outskirts of the city, the returnees are in temporary limbo before they’ll be relocated by UNHCR.

Children line up, some braver than others, to receive measles and polio vaccinations.

The adults pool around the IOM trucks, waiting for their meagre belongings to be hauled down to them.

There’s laughing, smiling.

I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this.

It makes a nice change.