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31 December 2012
South Sudan’s hopes for peace following its declaration of independence in July 2011 are slowly giving way to violence and displacement. This is associated with continued border disputes with Sudan and armed conflict and inter-communal fighting within the country. Institutional obstacles to data collection and severely restricted access to large parts of the country mean accurate data on displacement flows remains a key challenge. Since independence, any tracking has focused primarily on new displacements, and there is little information on IDP returns within South Sudan. Those figures that do exist point to new displacements in some areas and significant obstacles to return and reintegration processes.
As of December 2012, at least 240,000 people were thought to be living in displacement in South Sudan, of whom at least 190,000 were newly displaced over the course of the year. As many as 155,000 people of South Sudanese origins who were displaced prior to independence returned from Sudan, and another 40,000, currently living in precarious conditions in Khartoum, are expected to return. The country has also experienced large influxes of refugees from increasing violence in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Over 20,000 returnees are thought to remain in transit sites on the border, and many of those who have returned to the country, often to sites close to contested border areas, are faced with little or no access to basic services and few employment opportunities. Some returnees lack the documents needed to claim citizenship, which is a prerequisite to accessing land and basic services such as health and education. The extent to which returnees have been able to choose their destination remains unclear.
The majority of new displacements in South Sudan have taken place in Jonglei state, where inter-communal tensions, competition over resources and an ongoing armed uprising led by the David Yau Yau militia displaced more than 123,000 people during 2012. Civilians bear the brunt of attacks, with incidents of extreme violence reported including the killing of infants and children and indications of a rapidly growing trend of sexual and gender-based violence. The recruitment of children into armed groups is also a major concern.
In Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and Unity states, more than 50,000 people fled their homes during 2012, as a result of border tensions with Sudan and also to escape inter-communal violence. Another 10,000 are thought to be displaced in Upper Nile.
No Lords Resistance Army (LRA) attacks were reported in 2012 and around 21,000 people previously displaced by LRA in Western Equatoria state returned to their homes. Around 50,000 people remain displaced.
Floods displaced as many as 340,000 people across the whole country, particularly in Jonglei.
High levels of food insecurity, weak state governance and limited public services and transport infrastructure add to the vulnerability of the displaced population. This is compounded by an economic crisis that saw 75 per cent inflation and a 40 per cent depreciation of the South Sudanese pound in 2012. More than half of South Sudan’s population lives below the poverty line.
Humanitarian funding stood at more than $794 million, 67.4 per cent of the $1.1 billion requested in the 2012 CAP humanitarian appeal. The protection cluster was the least funded at just 32 per cent. South Sudan’s decision to halt oil production in January caused a drop of up to 98 per cent in national revenues, and led international aid organisations to focus on responding to humanitarian needs over longer-term development initiatives. Sustained support by the international community for the return and reintegration process of those returning from Sudan is therefore limited.
This reflects a broader gap in support for durable solutions in South Sudan as humanitarian interventions are prioritised. South Sudan is still to sign the Kampala Convention, but it acceded to the Great Lakes Pact in October 2012. As it is signatory to a clear normative framework for dealing with all stages of displacement, this represents an opportunity to develop a national policy in support of durable solutions that can be integrated into a broader national development strategy.
Sudan and South Sudan: 20,000 people displaced by clashes over oil territory
(3 May 2012)
According to humanitarian sources, some 20,000 people have been displaced
since April 20 by fighting between Sudanese and South Sudanese armed forces in the border areas around the Heglig oil region in South Kordofan, Sudan.
In retaliation to the occupation of Heglig for 10 days by the South Sudanese in a bid to assert claims over the disputed
territory, the Sudanese army launched air strikes from across the border in Unity State. The occupation ended on April 20 but cross-border air raids have continued. While this event has added significantly to the numbers of people uprooted from their homes, elsewhere in South Kordofan an escalation in fighting between Sudanese forces and rebels from the SPLM-N has also caused further displacement
Since South Sudan’s independence in July last year, the on-going cross-border fighting continues to disrupt movements
of returnees from Sudan to South Sudan. While the IOM reports that up to 375,000 have returned to the south, the UN estimates that some 700,000 southerners, who had been internally displaced before secession of South Sudan, remained in Khartoum at the end of 2011. Despite an established deadline for southerners residing in Sudan to regularise their status by 8 April 2012, this group remain in legal limbo in Sudan and risks
being exposed arrest and detention on immigration charges.
South Sudan: Inter-communal fighting in Jonglei displaces 60,000
(13 January 2012)
Clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities have displaced
tens of thousands of civilians in Jonglei State and led United Nations agencies to launch a major humanitarian response. The violence displaced
around 60,000 people between 23 December and 10 January. The government of South Sudan and the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) are trying to reach remote areas of the bush where many have fled.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported
that it needed funding to enable it to reach remote affected areas by air. UNMISS peacekeepers have been deployed to support the efforts of government forces, but UN Security Council (UNSC) members were also concerned
that the mission’s shortage of operational helicopters was limiting its ability to carry out its mandate. While calling on
the warring communities to engage in reconciliation, the UNSC welcomed
the efforts of the South Sudanese government to protect civilians and mediate a solution to the crisis.
In the last seven months of 2011 over 1,000 people died
in cattle raids and counter raids between the groups, and some 63,000 people were displaced
, according to reports by local authorities and assessment teams.
The UN and other agencies are also responding
to internal displacements in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei State, and to the needs of tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in South Sudan who have fled fighting north of the border since South Sudan declared independence. They have continued to assist
around 110,000 people displaced within South Sudan during the crisis which broke out in Abyei in May.
The UN has warned
that at least a million people are expected to be unable to meet their food needs in 2012, an increase of more than 100,000 from 2011, and that the situation of more than 3.6 million South Sudanese may worsen due to high food prices, continued displacements and insecurity.
Sudan and South Sudan: Violence on both sides of the border continues to displace civilians
(11 November 2011)
Ongoing fighting on both sides of the newly-established border between Sudan and South Sudan continues to displace civilians and threaten stability in the region. The countries have blamed each other for violence on their respective sides since South Sudan became independent in July 2011.
The government of Sudan has accused
South Sudan of supporting rebels on the northern side of the border, in the states of South Kordofan, where fighting has been ongoing since June, and in Blue Nile which has seen fighting since September. On 5 November, Sudan submitted a complaint
against South Sudan to the UN Security Council, accusing it of providing rebels with “anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles as well as with ammunition, landmines and mortars”. Sudan has imposed restrictions
on humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile citing security
concerns, including the presence of landmines and the movements of rebel groups. Humanitarian organisations estimate that over 200,000 people have either been displaced
or severely affected by the conflict in South Kordofan. The UN estimates that 28,500 Sudanese from Blue Nile have fled
to Ethiopia and that 19,500 others have taken shelter among communities along the border.
Meanwhile, the US government condemned the “indiscriminate aerial bombings
of civilian targets” in late October and in early November by Sudan government forces fighting rebels in its territory, saying the bombings increase the potential of direct confrontation between the two countries. Negotiations
to resolve the fighting have failed, despite mediation by the African Union led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and then the intervention of Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi.
The government of South Sudan has denied providing support to rebels north of the border, and has repeatedly accused Sudan of supporting rebels on its side, in Upper Nile and Unity states. The most recent fighting in Unity state took place on 29 October, after the rebel SSLA (South Sudan Liberation Army) warned
the UN and humanitarian organisations to leave the area for their own safety. This put at risk displaced communities who depend
on aid for survival, and troops with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were deployed to help local authorities deal with the aftermath of the attacks and to monitor the situation. In addition to ongoing internal displacement within Unity state, the UN has reported
more than 20,000 people fleeing into the state from South Kordofan in Sudan. Humanitarian aid organisations are concerned
that “the number of people arriving to Unity might double before the end of the year if fighting continues in South Kordofan”.
Violence in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei has also caused internal displacement, as Sudan and South Sudan have yet to resolve issues over borders and revenues
from oil. The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA
) was established and deployed in June 2011 after violence displaced more than 110,000 people. Since July, 75 per cent of oil fields have been located
on the South Sudan side, but South Sudan cannot export oil without using Sudan’s refineries and pipelines to the Red Sea. On 4 November, the UN Security Council called on both countries to withdraw
their forces from Abyei, facilitate the safe return of IDPs, and enable continuous humanitarian access to the area.