A year after South Sudan signed a peace agreement to end the country’s devastating civil war, a staggering one-third of its population is still displaced. Few feel safe enough to return home, and the situation remains dire. Little of the peace agreement has been implemented even as a deadline looms to form a transitional government in the next six weeks by November 12. Failure to address key issues, including relocation and disarmament of soldiers and disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities, could revive the devastating violence seen in recent years and exacerbate displacement.
As peace hangs in the balance, South Sudan’s displaced people fear returning home. While there have been some improvements in conditions for displaced people, such as increased humanitarian access, this progress is fragile. Remaining barriers to returns include the lack of safety, services, and jobs. Often their former homes were destroyed or stolen by other people. And perpetrators of atrocities committed during the war, including widespread sexual violence, remain unpunished.
Refugees International’s new report, is based on dozens of interviews with displaced people and UN, government, and NGO officials working with them in South Sudan. In the report, Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan calls on the government of South Sudan and opposition leaders to implement the peace agreement. He also urges the international community to increase diplomatic pressure to support their efforts to do so. Implementation of the agreement is key to creating a safe environment for South Sudan’s nearly 4 million forcibly displaced people to return home and to preventing further violence and mass displacement. Failing to avert or address this crisis will have consequences too grave to ignore.