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United Nations Secretary-General High Level Panel on Internal Displacement Consultations with IDPs and Host Community – South Sudan (September 2020)

South Sudan
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Throughout September 2020, IOM, UNHCR, CARE International, DRC, NRC-Act Alliance and Plan International conducted 220 focus group discussions gathering 1,752 IDPs and members of host communities across eight different states and Abyei Administrative Area. The interagency collaboration is a contribution to the Consultation with Affected Communities process initiated by the UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. This report provides background information about the displacement situation in South Sudan, the methodological framework used for the consultation and key highlights from gathered notes on the below listed different thematic areas:

  • Durable Solutions
  • Prevention
  • Participation and Accountability
  • Protection
  • Coordination
  • Humanitarian-Development-Peacebuilding Nexus
  • Specific Needs and Capacities
  • COVID-19

Background information

Globally, internal displacements continue to rise rapidly on an annual basis. The 2019 annual report prepared by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) indicates that in 2019, conflict and disasters triggered a total of 33.4 million new displacements across 145 countries and territories. Of these, 8.5 million new conflict displacements were recorded in 50 countries and 24.9 million new disaster displacements in 140 countries. By December 2019, 50.8 million IDPs remained displaced globally due to conflict, violence and disasters.

South Sudan is one of the countries with the highest sporadic internal displacement rates and refugee migrations1 as the country continues to experience worsening humanitarian crisis characterized by violent armed clashes between different rebel groups, intercommunal violence (ICV), widespread insecurity, lack of services and disasters (e.g. floods); resulting in displacements of civilians, killing, looting, destruction of property and gross violation of human rights. The situation is further exacerbated by various impediments that continue to hinder humanitarian access and disruption of planned operations by humanitarian actors.

The cumulative effects of years of protracted conflict, natural disasters, persistent food insecurity situation, economic decline including chronic vulnerabilities and lack of essential services have affected the whole population, leaving about 7.5 million people (more than two-thirds of the population) in need of humanitarian assistance (South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020).

Relatedly, conflict, violence, insecurity and disasters are leading causes of ongoing humanitarian crisis and displacement in South Sudan. Recent estimates indicate 1.60 million South Sudanese are internally displaced (IDPs) (IOM DTM, March 2020), 2.2 million are refugees in the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (UNHCR, January 2020). The country is also hosting 299,815 refugees from other countries hosted in South Sudan. More than a half of country’s population (6.48 million) are predicted to be facing food insecurity during the lean season (May-July 2020, IPC Projections 2020) whilst more than a million might experience severely food insecure (IPC 4, May-July 2020). Additionally, 292,300 children under five to be suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and more than one million children under five suffering from Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM).

In September 2018, the Government and the key opposition leaders signed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). The agreement has brought relative stability to the country severely impoverished by the decades of war. However, the implementation of the peace process has been delayed, in particular, the establishment of governance structures and the training of joint military forces; one of the main prerequisites for sustainable peace. Whilst the latter has not yet been achieved, the national cabinet for the Transitional Government of National Unity was formed on 22 February 2020 (after two deadline extensions). Appointments for local governance structures are still pending creating a power vacuum which proved to be a challenge for addressing sub-national and inter-communal violence across the country.

Despite the peace agreement, armed conflict between State security forces and opposition armed groups (e.g. National Salvation Front – NAS) has been contained to a small number of areas in the Equatorial region where Government forces continue to clash with non-signatories to the agreement. Further on, many areas, in particular across Jonglei, Lakes and Warrap States are seeing intra- and inter-communal violence, enabled by the proliferation of small-arms, the weak rule of law and occasionally flared by unbalanced disarmament process. Population mobility is also driven by resource scarcity in areas that have experienced years of severe food insecurity and destroyed infrastructure.