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Back on their feet: The role of PoCs in South Sudan and the potential for returning ‘home’

Countries
South Sudan
Sources
CSRF
Publication date

On the 4 September 2020, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in South Sudan announced in a press conference that UNMISS had begun to ‘progressively withdraw its troops and police from the Bor and Wau PoCs’, and to redesignate the sites ‘no longer PoC sites but camps for internally displaced people (IDP) under the jurisdiction of the government’ (UNMISS 4 September 2020). Later on in September UNMISS also removed its troops and police from the Juba PoC site. This marks a major shift in the UNMISS position on an issue of critical important to peace and conflict dynamics in South Sudan. The analysis included in this report, conducted before the announcement was made, seeks to contribute to an ongoing discussion on the transition process and timelines for UNMISS withdrawal from the Bentiu and Malakal PoC sites as well.

Research for this paper is based on 15 in-depth interviews and 3 Focus-Group discussions carried out in Malakal in 2018, and 21 interviews and 3 FGD’s in Malakal in March 2020. It also draws on 20 interviews and 5 FGD’s carried out in Juba. Part of the research was based on a questions checklist specifically on PoCs while the rest was based on a checklist that was part of a wider CSRF study on livelihoods.

This report adopts a conflict sensitive lens to examine the issue of PoCs. It aims to illustrate how policies regarding PoCs require a context-specific analysis as well as an understanding of how decision-making on behalf of UNMISS and humanitarians can have conflict-related implications. It begins with a description of the context in which the PoCs were established, followed by an analysis of how this evolved in the Malakal PoC site. The site-specific conclusions feed into a breakdown of the institutional thinking behind the 4 September 2020 announcement, examining how the decision will impact on peace and conflict dynamics, before making recommendations on how to operationalize a conflict-sensitive approach with regard to the future of PoC sites and a process for any future roll-out of the transitions process.