The UN Refugee Agency in South Sudan advocates for the Transitional Government of National Unity to enact a law domesticating the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.
South Sudan this week is marking the first anniversary of its accession to the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention.
On this occasion, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reaffirms its commitment to support the South Sudanese government in building on the momentum gained to strengthen protection for the nearly 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) within its borders.
The government is to be commended for acceding to the Kampala Convention and developing a bill – in consultation with IDPs – to enshrine its principles into national law. As evidenced by the Council of Minister’s expedited endorsement of a Government Framework for Return, Relocation and Reintegration in October of 2019, and the drafting of a costed action plan in 2020, the country is taking increasing ownership of the IDP situation.
It is critical that the bill, which is currently under review by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, now be enacted. Upholding IDPs’ human rights and creating an enabling political and legal environment for their assistance and protection as they search for durable solutions is a key component of implementing the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. Passing this legislation would help to rebuild trust with IDPs and the international community and provide a solid base for anchoring response planning, prioritization and appropriate resource allocation.
At the same time, there is an urgent need to end the ongoing violence that continues to displace people within the country. This requires not only establishing a ceasefire in parts of the country where politically motivated armed conflict persists, but also taking action to end increasingly militarized intercommunal violence driven by tension over access to water and grazing for livestock. These newly displaced IDPs face particularly heightened protection risks as the country fights to contain the spread of COVID-19, and insecurity hampers humanitarian efforts to deliver life-saving assistance.
The Kampala Convention is the world’s first continent-wide legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of IDPs. It was adopted at a meeting of the African Union in October 2009. South Sudan in 2019 was the 28th country to ratify it.