South Sudan: envisioning national protection for displaced people

South-Sudanese internally displaced women and children in IOM health facility in Kandak South-Sudanese internally displaced women and children in IOM health facility in Kandak IOM/Jacob Zocherman 2015

7 June 2020

As South Sudan transitions into peace, a national legislation for protecting internally displaced people (IDPs) must be embraced

After more than six years of civil war, the youngest world’s country has moved into a transition process to peace which has been commended by the international community. The establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) in February 2020 has marked a significant achievement for implementing the 2018 peace agreement in South Sudan.

However, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has expressed deep concerns regarding the resolution to hostilities and the ceasefire violations, and it recently approved the renewal of the army embargo until May 2021. The human rights situation in South Sudan remains dire with massive communities’ displacement and frequent attacks to humanitarian workers and journalists within the borders.

On 7 June 2020, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in South Sudan has reiterated the importance of developing a legal and political framework for protecting and assisting IDPs. In 2019 the country signed the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention. Yet, a national legislation safeguarding the rights of IDPs is still needed for fostering durable peace solutions and rebuilding trust among the population.  Today, according to UNHCR, an estimated population of 1.7 million IDPs are left behind facing growing insecurity due to the COVID-19 emergency in the country. Since February, the UN peacekeepers defending the Protection of Civilian (PoC) camps have called residents to leave in order to prevent a coronavirus outbreak. But people fear going back home due to the ongoing conflicts and the hostility that have raised towards PoC residents, being suspected of having the virus. In such context of emergency, action must be taken promptly to establish internal regulation complying with the Kampala Convention by the South-Sudanese unity government.

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Author: Rossella Fadda

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