UNHCR praises inclusion of refugee and internally displaced voices in South Sudan’s milestone National Dialogue peace conference

The UN Refugee Agency |Photo: UNHCR
The UN Refugee Agency |Photo: UNHCR

UNHCR | Press Release

November 19, 2020 (Thessherald)–On Tuesday, the National Dialogue Conference on Peace concluded in Juba, South Sudan with the release of a communique aimed at identifying a way forward for the revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

Recommendations covered a host of topics ranging from the economy to safety and security, to governance and social cohesion. In a historic step, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees also brought their unique perspectives to the deliberations.

The Dialogue provided a platform for a frank and earnest exchange of views among over

500 participants from all walks of life. In light of the global pandemic, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, assisted a dozen participants to connect virtually from five asylum countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. In addition, 26 IDPs and returnees across South Sudan connected to the proceedings online, in close coordination with the National Dialogue Conference’s organizers. Many more watched the livestreamed discussions.

Refugee, IDP and returnee recommendations were included in the final report, which largely focused on displacement solutions. Concretely, they called for security sector reform and strengthening the rule of law, improvements in essential services in their home location, inclusion of women, youth and persons with disabilities in governance; reforms that respect women’s rights to own, inherit and transfer land; housing, land and property restitution; economic stability and creation of employment opportunities.

Reflecting the gravity of the occasion, President H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit addressed the Conference on the final day, along with members of the diplomatic community in Juba. In his concluding remarks, the Honourable Angelo Beda, co-chairperson of the National Dialogue, recognised that continued momentum following the dialogue is crucial, and urged the full realisation of the recommendations. Participants also echoed the call for progress. “What sets great nations apart is the implementation of policies”, said Zacharia Friday in Yambio, Western Equatoria State on behalf of internally displaced persons in South Sudan.

With nearly 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees hosted in neighbouring countries and another 1.6 million persons displaced within the country, UNHCR stresses for their voice to be heard at all stages, including in consultations which are shaping the path to peace.

“Peace is not complete until the nation is complete, and the nation is not complete until all of its citizens have a meaningful role to play in that,” said Arafat Jamal, UNHCR Representative speaking at the closing ceremony. “Thank you to the National Dialogue for welcoming the virtual participation of conflict affected communities.”

National Dialogue wants corruption declared a ‘National Emergency’

South Sudan senior commanders |Photo: Via Facebook

Nov 17, 2020 (Thessherald)–During its third conference held today in the nation’s capital, Juba, the South Sudan National Dialogue called on the government to declare ongoing corruption as a ‘national emergency’.

“We, the 518 delegates, representing 80 counties of South Sudan, eminent persons, political parties, faith-based institutions, civil society, business communities, professional associations and organizations, representatives of organized forces, women and youth organizations, having dialogued in Juba from the 3rdto the 17thof November 2020 at the National Dialogue National Conference, under the chairmanship of Co-Chair, Hon. Angelo Beda,” said the National Dialogue Committee in its communique.

“The National Dialogue Committee having deliberated on the agenda of the Dialogue Conference expresses serious concern about pervasive corruption in South Sudan and calls on the government to consider corruption as a national emergency.”

National Dialogue

On the Economy, the National Dialogue

• Resolves to urge the Government to exert more efforts in stabilizing peace and in restoring macroeconomic stability within the overall framework for sustainable peace, economic growth, and poverty eradication;

• Calls for the diversification of the economy by making agriculture the engine of growth and using oil revenues to fuel this engine through investment in roads, telecommunication and electricity;

• Recommends to the Government that it adopts a clear economic development policy and strategy;

• Resolves to equitably share financial resources between federal and state governments.

• Demands that the government and oil companies immediately address environmental, social and health problems created by oil production;

• Calls for an urgent enactment of an environmental law that mandates environmental and social impact assessment before any development projects are executed;

• Appeals to the government and companies to conduct development activities in line with sustainable development principles so that it does not jeopardize the needs of present and future generations.

• Calls for the establishment of an electronic payroll system in the government institutions;

• Resolves to urge the Government to respect and ensure the independence of the National Revenue Authority (NRA);

• Calls on the Government to modernize gold exploration, mining and processing;

• Recommends to the Government to exert efforts to increase local food production for domestic consumption and export to increase supply of hard currency in the country;

• Appeals to the government to strengthen social safety-net programs through the establishment of cooperatives with the aim of alleviating the cost of living;

• Recommends the empowerment of women and youth through the establishment of microfinance institutions to expand access to credit and promote inclusive growth;

• Demands that the Government establish strategic industries to increase the supply of high value goods and services.

UNHCR Welcomes Participation of Refugee and IDPs in S. Sudan’s National Dialogue Conference

Emblem of the UN Refugee Agency |UNHCR
           Press Release

November 4, 2020 (Thessherald)–UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the inclusion of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and spontaneous refugee returnees in the National Dialogue Conference, which began today in Juba, South Sudan, and will last until November 14.

With nearly 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees hosted in neighbouring countries and another 1.6 million persons displaced within the country, ensuring that their voices and views continue to be part of this dialogue is essential for the inclusiveness of the process.

“Refugees and IDPs can and do contribute to the resolution of the conflicts that uprooted them. Involving them in this National Dialogue with their compatriots helps to build long-lasting peace, including through durable solutions to displacement and improving conditions in the areas of return,” explains newly arrived UNHCR Representative Arafat Jamal. ‘On this, my first day in South Sudan, I am heartened to see South Sudanese from all walks of life working together to forge greater harmony through honest and focused interchange.’

On the event’s agenda are thematic discussions on the economy, governance, security and social cohesion. Participation of forcibly displaced to this Conference provides them with a platform where to address issues affecting all South Sudanese, ensuring they play a central role in the revitalized peace efforts along with fellow citizens.

While in person attendance would have been preferred, the various travel requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow for this possibility at this time. To facilitate inclusion of refugee and IDPs’ voices and views in the National Dialogue, UNHCR has organised internet access for a dozen participants to participate virtually from six asylum countries, namely the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, and 28 IDP and IDP returnees across South Sudan, in close coordination with the National Dialogue Conference’s organizers.

This comes after UNHCR partnership with the National Dialogue Sub-Committee for Refugees and International Outreach, formed in 2017 to facilitate the participation of South Sudanese residing outside the country. With this aim, the sub-committee travelled to four countries of asylum, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia in 2019, providing South Sudanese refugees with the opportunity to contribute towards this important part of the peace process. IDPs were also included in several grass-rooted consultations held in different South Sudan locations ahead of this Conference.