Progress and momentum as National Consultations on Solutions Initiative get underway in South Sudan

The IGAD Chair, the IGAD secretary and the UNHCR Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa at the high-level meeting in Khartoum, Sudan | Photo: UNHCR

Press Statement

Juba – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), UNHCR, the Refugee Agency and partners, applaud progress toward lasting solutions for forcibly displaced persons as national consultations took place last week in Juba, South Sudan.

The two day event successfully marked another milestone for South Sudan’s implementation of the Sudan and South Sudan Solutions Initiative, under the auspices of IGAD, following the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial National Technical Committee (NTC) and hosting the second High-Level technical meeting in Juba in early January.

The workshop was attended by over 70 persons, both virtually and in person, including representation of those internally displaced, refugee returnees and host communities in Bentiu, Bor, Jamjang, Maban, Malakal, Wau and Yambio. Refugees hosted in Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda also actively participated virtually.

“As fragile peace holds and the number of people seeking solutions increases, we have a unique opportunity before us,” expressed Arafat Jamal, UNHCR Representative to South Sudan. “This process belongs to the government as well as the people of South Sudan, and I welcome the continued robust participation of displaced people as state level consultations are rolled out.”

IGAD commended the Government of South Sudan for the progress witnessed in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), which provides prospects for durable solutions for millions of displaced populations.

Reflecting the cross-cutting challenges and collaborative spirit needed to create conditions that would allow for solutions, the Government of South Sudan was represented by the Office of the President and Vice President, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) and Commissioner for Refugees Affairs (CRA). In addition, government line ministries, including Gender, Land, Housing and Urban Planning, Education, Health, General Education and Foreign Affairs took part. In addition, representatives from the United Nations, IGAD and civil society participated.

Key priorities raised at the dynamic workshop include accountability and transparent governance; security such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; peace building; restoration of social services; coordination of returns and support in return areas; and partnerships to ensure solutions are sustainable.

With some 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees hosted in neighbouring countries, another 1.6 million internally displaced and some 360,000 refugees spontaneously returned to South Sudan, their voices at all stages, including in consultative and dialogue processes that are shaping the path to peace, remains vital. The next step on the way towards the IGAD Heads of State Summit is the launch of state level consultations including outreach to government counterparts, internally displaced people, refugees, returnees, as well as the communities hosting them. The findings of the consultations will inform the drafting of a solutions strategy.

Recognizing that there are still significant obstacles in the way of refugees returning home, any return must be voluntary. UNHCR remains committed to supporting the respective governments in their efforts to create the conditions on the ground that will allow for safe, dignified and sustainable return and integration.

Mabior says he’ll never set foot in Juba just for food and V8 car

Mabior Garang de Mabior, senior SPLM-IO official and former Assistant Interior Minister / Photo: Supplied

Mabior Garang de Mabior, a prominent member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-IO, has ruled out that he will never set foot in Juba no matter what —unless the IDPs and refugees return to their homes.

“I would like to assure our civil population that, the only thing that can take me to Juba is the freedom of our people in the IDP and Refugee camps. I will not go to Juba for a V8 Toyota Landcruiser, nor for Kombo Samak and Shurba La’am,” said Mabior Garang in a Facebook post.

On June 3, Mabior resigned from the unity government as Deputy Minister of Interior in protest at the slow implementation of the peace agreement, however, his position has not yet been replaced.

“It has become abundantly clear that our partners in peace implementing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), the only way we can restore some semblance of sanity to our nascent Republic.

Adding that, “the SPLM/SPLA (IG) – have no intention of as Your Excellency is aware, I am among the many SPLM/SPLA (IO) cadres who have been suspicious of the intentions of a regime which insists on implementing the Agreement without security arrangements,” said Mabior in his resignation letter.

“I personally protested and brought it to Your Excellency’s attention that I could not put my hand on the Bible and swear on a lie – an illegitimate R-TGONU – and so I declined to participate in it.”

He accused the Kiir administration of dragging it feet on the implementation of the peace agreement and using lame excuses as delaying tactics.

Alert: Crisis Group warns of looming Genocide as federal forces approach Mekelle

International Crisis Group | Press Statement

Nov 28, 2020 (Thessherald)–Fighting between the Ethiopian army and Tigray forces has arrived near the region’s biggest city, home to half a million residents. Addis Ababa should pause hostilities, all sides should minimise harm to civilians and the AU should step up efforts to avert further bloodshed.

lasting damage to the country. Following the African Union’s lead, the U.S., the European Union and the UN Security Council should urge Addis Ababa to suspend the assault and convey to all sides that an already blood-soaked military campaign would be enormously damaging to the country’s well-being and international repute.

It is not too late to avert more civilian deaths, nor to avoid a bloody confrontation that could inflict lasting damage to the country.

Civilians in Tigray have paid a heavy price since the conflict began on 4 November. More than 40,000 refugees have fled west Tigray towns such as Humera and Dansha into eastern Sudan, with some having to swim across rivers to get to safety. According to the United Nations, at least 600,000 people in Tigray depended on food aid before the conflict and have not received their rations this month. Fuel and other essentials are also running low in Mekelle. Thousands have died in the fighting, including many civilians as well as security forces.

The communications blackout and blockade of air and road access to the region from within Ethiopia is affecting the humanitarian response. Federal forces and Sudanese troops are reported to have shuttered Tigray’s main external supply line through eastern Sudan.

All sides are reported to have committed atrocities. An Ethiopian Human Rights Commission preliminary report blamed Tigrayan militia for killing hundreds of mostly Amhara civilians in Maykadra town in west Tigray on 9 November. Tigrayan refugees in camps have reported atrocities by Amhara militia who have been fighting alongside the federal military, including in that same town.

All sides are reported to have committed atrocities.

Federal officials in Addis Ababa argue they are acting to bring to heel rebellious Tigrayan leaders whom they accuse of undermining stability across Ethiopia since they were squeezed out of power at the national level in 2018. They maintain that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Tigray’s ruling party, started the war by killing dozens of soldiers in an attack on a federal military base on 4 November, and that Tigrayan leaders’ objective is to ensure they enjoy immunity for “past and present misdeeds” and continue to exercise control far in excess of the TPLF’s limited nationwide support. They characterise the conflict as a “law and order operation”, which they predict will end rapidly.

Addis Ababa is intent on securing a military victory and rejects the idea of negotiations, saying that Tigray’s leaders cannot be allowed to get away with attacking the national military and violating the constitution, which it claims occurred when Tigray ran a regional election in September in defiance of federal rulings.

Officials in Addis Ababa argue that allowing the TPLF to get away with its actions would set a destabilising precedent that would incentivise future acts of rebellion. They claim that entering into dialogue would reward the illegal actions of the TPLF, whose leadership they now label a “junta” or “clique”, for the 4 November attacks, which they describe as a “treasonous act”. On 27 November, Abiy met three envoys appointed by AU chair Cyril Ramaphosa and told them he would not engage in talks with the TPLF. He said dialogue with Tigray’s ruling party would “nurture a culture of impunity with devastating cost to the survival of the country”.

In the event they do not leave, fails to discriminate between them and combatants, would be a clear violation of international law and would badly damage the Ethiopian government’s international reputation.

The likely bloodbath that would ensue would deepen the enmity between those facing off against each other and risk further alienating swathes of the civilian population in Tigray. Tigrayan officers, civil servants and others reportedly are being ethnically profiled outside of Tigray, and many echo the Tigrayan leaders’ claim that this is an attack on the entire group, a sentiment that may seed support for secession.

Given what a military offensive by Addis Ababa – even one that is successful on its own terms – would entail and what it would provoke, all sides should accept a deal to suspend hostilities. AU chair Ramaphosa, who has consistently called for talks, should appeal to Prime Minister Abiy to scrap or at least extend the ultimatum his government issued.

The chances of a negotiated agreement to end the fighting, let alone reach a longer-term solution to a bitter constitutional dispute, are vanishing quickly, given Addis Ababa’s determination to secure control of the city and bring TPLF leaders to justice. Although it has lately called for talks, the TPLF, too, raised its own obstacles to dialogue before the conflict by declaring the federal government illegitimate. Ethiopia’s partners, from regional leaders to the AU to the EU and UN Security Council members, should not give up in pointing out to Abiy’s government that Ethiopia’s problems ultimately need to be resolved politically, through talks, and not through force.

The most urgent need now is to save lives.

The most urgent need now is to save lives. Entering a heavily populated metropolis with artillery and air power, as an Ethiopian military spokesman warned federal forces will do imminently, would exact an enormous, intolerable toll on civilians and badly damage Ethiopia’s international repute, at a time when voices of concern from many of Ethiopia’s partners are growing. Addis Ababa should agree to pause hostilities and, whether or not an offensive goes ahead, all sides should strictly respect international law, which means doing everything feasible to avoid or minimise loss of civilian life and refraining from using civilians as human shields.

In parallel to efforts to avert a humanitarian crisis, Ethiopia’s partners should continue to press the message that the answer to the country’s deep political fault lines will not come on the battlefield.

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.”

UNHCR, EU and IGAD agree to address refugee crises in Sudan and S. Sudan

The women and children shown in these images living in Yida cam. They were displaced from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Sudan |Photo: MSF
The women and children shown in these images are living in Yida camp. They were displaced from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Sudan |Photo: MSF

Joint Press Statement |UNHCR, EU and IGAD

October 9, 2020 (Thessherald)–On the margins of UNHCR’s annual Executive Committee proceedings, the Foreign Ministers of Sudan and South Sudan held a meeting chaired by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and attended by the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, at which they agreed to begin an IGAD-led regional initiative to seek solutions to protracted displacement in Sudan and South Sudan.

With the recent signing of the Juba Peace Agreement between Sudan’s Transitional Government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front and others on 3 October 2020, and the continued efforts in implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) signed on 12 September 2018, all parties present agreed it is a unique opportunity to find lasting solutions for displaced persons from the two countries.

As part of the IGAD-led process, a High-Level Meeting is foreseen to take place during an IGAD Heads of State Special Summit that is planned for the first quarter of 2021. The aim will be to agree on the early recovery and longer-term peacebuilding and resilience needs for five million Sudanese and South Sudanese internally displaced persons, refugees and returnees, and to urge the international community to show solidarity and support the process.

The High-Level Meeting is in line with the Nairobi Declaration, an agreement by IGAD countries to have a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for refugees while also maintaining protection and promoting self-reliance in the countries of asylum. In addition, the process will be an initiative of the IGAD Support Platform launched during the Global Refugee Forum in December last year, and which consists of humanitarian and development organizations, donors, private sector and other partners committing to show solidarity by providing concrete technical, financial and development support to refugees in the IGAD region.

All parties further agreed that key factors for achieving success will be the participation of refugees, IDPs, and returnees in the process, full regional engagement especially with countries hosting Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees, the crucial roles and contributions of other UN actors, and more support from the international community. A first preparatory meeting will take place in Khartoum at the end of the month.

The IGAD member states are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Currently, there are over 1.8 million Sudanese internally displaced, mainly in the Darfur region, and over 700,000 refugees located in neighbouring countries. Figures for South Sudanese include some 2.2 million refugees in the region and another 1.6 million displaced within the country.

S. Sudan seeks to accede to UN Convention on Statelessness

[Right to left] First Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir Mayardit |Photo:File

October 2, 2020 (Thessherald)–Meeting in Juba on Thursday – the Governance Cluster chaired by the First Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar, passed a draft proposal seeking the state’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

“Governance Cluster meeting today chaired by the First Vice President, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny, discussed, passed and recommended the UN Convention on Statelessness,” said the Office of the First Vice-President.

The United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is a treaty signed by 75 countries around the world and obligates each member state to ensure that no one is left stateless.

In a statement to the media, the Press Secretary in the Office of the Vice-President, James Gatdet said that the proposal is now ready to be presented to the Council of Ministers for approval.

After approval for the Council of Ministers, the Convention will be tabled before the Revitalized-Transitional National Legislative (R-TNA) for final approval.

“After its recommendation today by the Governance Cluster, the Convention will be tabled before the Council of Ministers meeting for approval and then sent to the parliament for rectification [ratification] so that it becomes a law.”

Since gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan has signed a number of United Nations and African Union treaties.

In 2016, the country acceded to the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees Problems in Africa, making it the 46th country to ratify the Convention.

UNHCR strengthens support to S. Sudan’s search for durable solutions for millions of forcibly displaced

UNHCR Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Mohamed Affey meets President Salva Kiir Mayardit |Photo: UNHCR

Press Statement |UNHCR-S. Sudan

Sept 25, 2020 (Thessherald)–UNHCR Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Mohamed Affey, concluded a High-Level mission to renew the joint commitment to find durable solutions for millions of forcibly displaced people in the region.

UNHCR, the UN refugee Agency, strengthens its support to South Sudan’s Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity’s search for a comprehensive and lasting solutions for those forcibly displaced in the region. With 1.6 million internally displaced persons and 2.25 million South Sudanese refugees in the neighbouring countries, South Sudan continues to represent the largest displacement situation in Africa, and one of the biggest globally. In addition, more than 302,000 refugees and 3,700 asylum seekers are generously hosted in the country.

While the country is moving towards the establishment of a long-lasting peace, through the implementation of the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement, UNHCR renews its commitment in supporting the government to find durable solutions for those displaced. More than 205,000 South Sudanese refugees have spontaneously returned to South Sudan since the signing of the peace deal, two years ago.

It is in this backdrop that UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Mohamed Affey, held a three-day mission to South Sudan. During his visit, concluded on Wednesday, he met and discussed this critical topic with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, and other high-level officials. He also met with SRSG David Shearer and other UN senior officials in the country.

Thanks to these meetings, the start of a longer dialogue was established on which UNHCR and the government will build on to find a way forward that will ultimately benefit both displaced and host communities. This is in line with the pledges that the country has set for itself at the first Global Refugee Forum, last December in Geneva.

UNHCR Envoy visits S. Sudan, expected to meet Vice-President Nyandeng

Vice-President for Gender and Youth Cluster Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior speaking during a rally.
Vice-President for Gender and Youth Cluster Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior |Photo:File

Sept 21, 2020 (Thessherald)–The UNHCR Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey has visited South Sudan and is expected to meet South Sudan’s Vice-President for Gender and Youth Cluster Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior at her residence in Juba.

According to an official statement extended to The South Sudan Herald by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the meeting is scheduled to take place at this very morning hour, and is scheduled to discuss a wide range of issues related to the refugee situation in South Sudan.

“Ambassador will meet with Vice President HE Rebecca Nyandeng today at 11 A:M at her office and will meet the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Hon Deng Dau at 2 PM at MOFA. Ambassador Affey will brief the leadership of the country on the High Commissioner Initiative on comprehensive Solution for South Sudanese Refugees in the region,” the statement partly reads.


Since 2018, South Sudan has become 143rd country to accede to both the 1951 Convention on Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

The country hosts more thousands of refugees from its neighboring countries, despite all the challenges of civil war that has displaced a large number of its own population.

BNFA FC wins against Naath Boys FC in friendly match in Kakuma

BNFA players posing for a picture before kick-off |Photo: ©Thessherald

Sept 19, 2020 (Thessherald)–Naath Boys FC was thrashed 2-1 by BNFA Football Club in a friendly match played on September 18, 2020 in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Both BNFA FC and Naath Boys FC are the top football teams in Kakuma that have been participating in the Kakuma Premier League since its inception in 2016.

The Kakuma Premier League (KPL), made up of top soccer players, was formed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its implementing agencies as part of their efforts to empower and promote skills development of refugees and the host community in showcasing their soccer talents.

Speaking to the media on Friday, the BNFA FC Manager, Puot Bol, said the team was established in May 2015 for the purpose of competing with other top football teams in the camp, and later joined the Kakuma Premier League (KPL) in 2017 during the 2nd Season and successfully emerged in the top 10 position.

In recent years, the team ranked fifth during the third season 2018-2019.

However, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the current season of 2019-2020 has been put to a halt in compliance with Covid-19 measures- but is expected to resume in mid-October this year.

Puot admits that the team is currently facing financial challenges and unable to meet its needs. He appeals to well-wishers and good-hearted Samaritans for financial support . He can be reached here

Kakuma remains one of the largest camps in the world, with the majority of its refugees are South Sudanese who fled deadly violence in 2013 following the outbreak of conflict in Juba.

Depressed over lack of support, 60-year-old woman hangs herself in Kenya

July 30, 2020 (Thessherald)–A 60-year-old South Sudanese refugee, [name withheld] has hanged herself to death due to stress aggravated by a lack of support in Kaloboyei Integrated Settlement Camp, a small-sized area located adjacent to Kakuma.

“She’s a mother of five children, she committed suicide in Kalobeyei Village Two,” According to the children’s uncle, who was also an eyewitness.

Earlier reports indicated that the mother had quarreled with her children, chased them to sleep in one of her neighbor’s house, and stayed at home alone where she later committed suicide.

“It was her daughter who first came home earlier in the morning only to find her mother hanging lifeless. Police have taken the body to Kakuma 4 general hospital for testing and the body is to be buried today evening,”the source said.

Founded in 2016, Kaloboyei Integrated Settlement hosts thousands of refugees, most of whom come from South Sudan.

Its services are jointly overseen by the Kalobeyei Integrated Social and Economic Development Programme (KISEDP), headed by the Government of Kenya (GoK), the UNHCR, and partner agencies.

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