Many of these people had been living in Khartoum for many years and are used to urban life, and so are choosing to settle in cities when they return to the south. Southern Sudanese cities are preparing for a massive influx of people: Rumbek, for example, which has a population of around 100,000 people, is expecting 30,000 new arrivals.
Such a huge increase in population so suddenly is expected to put a lot of strain on southern cities, which already have very weak infrastructures. The UNHCR is working to provide some support to both the returnees and the communities that are receiving them. Southern cities are also doing what they can to prepare to receive them – we were awakened early in the morning by the shouting of hundreds of new police recruits as they participated in a hasty training course across the road from our compound in Rumbek, for example – but there is still concern about problems that so many new inhabitants may create.
The photo below shows a family returning home via a main road in Rumbek – however these people are probably returning home from the market, not from Khartoum.