Future planning for the protection of civilians sites in South Sudan - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/741)
The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2459 (2019), in which the Council decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until 15 March 2020 and requested a written report, within 180 days, on future planning for the protection of civilians sites. Accordingly, the report contains an assessment of each site, the security and assistance provided thereto and recommendations on the roles and responsibilities of UNMISS and other stakeholders and on the steps necessary to foster a secure environment for the safe, informed, voluntary and dignified return or relocation o f internally displaced persons.
The complexity of the issues surrounding the protection of civilians sites evoke strong sentiments and, consequently, often diverging views on the way forward. While the country has come a long way from the violence that resulted in the need for the creation of the sites, the legacy of that violence prevails. Delays in implementing key benchmarks of the peace deal may fuel uncertainty among the South Sudanese. The continued prevalence of intercommunal violence, sexual and gender-based violence and criminality, as well as the weak rule of law, remain the reality. Years of conflict and underdevelopment have left almost two thirds of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and protection. Those factors both act as a deterrent for internally displaced persons and refu gees to return home and, in some places, provoke further displacement.
Notwithstanding those conditions, the prospect of hope provided by the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, signed in September 2018, has encouraged spontaneous return movements of both internally displaced persons and refugees. With the revitalized peace process progressing, albeit slowly, opposition leaders continue to travel across the country without restrictions, while numerous rapprochement initiatives at the subnational level have cemented collaboration between Government and opposition forces and local authorities.
As the security environment has improved, the priorities for physical protection afforded by UNMISS have evolved. Improvements in access and a reduction in political violence have also enabled both UNMISS and humanitarian partners to broaden actions related to the protection of civilians and to ensure that assistance and basic services reach further afield, thus enabling internally displaced persons to receive assistance and protection in areas of return.
Among all stakeholders there is consensus on the need to enhance efforts to avoid protracted displacement. Despite the best efforts of humanitarian partners and UNMISS, the situation within the protection of civilians sites is untenable, and their entrenchment generates increasing protection and security risks. The present report presents a picture of the current situation, challenges and considerations. Importantly, the process of its formulation has brought all stakeholders together for the first time to consider how to chart a way forward that optimizes the collective efforts and capacities of all partners to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable civilia ns of South Sudan and to make concrete progress in the creation of conducive conditions for durable returns.
In preparing the report and the observations and recommendations contained herein, comprehensive consultations were conducted with a broad range of stakeholders, including discussions with humanitarian actors facilitated by the joint humanitarian task team of UNMISS and the humanitarian country team; extensive dialogue with civil society organizations; engagement with the Government of South Sudan; engagement with local communities; in-depth assessments in the form of 61 focus group discussions with residents of the protection of civilians sites led by the South Sudan Protection Cluster; and internal deliberations involving the military, police and civilian components of UNMISS.