South Sudan: “I’ve always been happier in the field than in the office”

By UNOCHA


Susan Atala, a registration officer with the International Organization for Migration in South Sudan, is chatting to a group of displaced men, women and children in Malakal town. 
Photo Credit: OCHA

Susan Atala, a registration officer with the International Organization for Migration in South Sudan, is chatting to a group of displaced men, women and children in Malakal town. Today she is overseeing the registration of a few hundred displaced people who have sought shelter in one of several displacement sites in Malakal, Upper Nile State.

Susan, who is from Uganda, has worked in South Sudan since 2007. In the early years, she worked mostly with South Sudanese returning to their country from Sudan. Since the break-out of conflict in mid-December, however, her job has been focused on registering and tracking people displaced within the country. “The work is more difficult now, as the security conditions are worse. We can’t always do the registrations as quickly as we would like to,” Susan explains. “But it is very rewarding, I like working directly with people and seeing that our work really helps.”

Susan smiles and jokes with the community as she checks their fingers – during the registration people’s little fingers are dipped in ink, to keep track of who has been registered. Avoiding double-registration is necessary to ensure that assistance is provided in the most fair and transparent way possible, though it is not always easy. “The most difficult part of my job is saying no to people who try to register twice because they are so desperate to get help” Susan explains. “But”, she continues with a broad smile, “that doesn’t change the fact that this is the job I want to do.”