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South Sudan: Nobody came to ask us: South Sudanese refugee perceptions of the peace process

Source: Institute for Security Studies
Country: Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda

Omar S Mahmood

Key findings

  • Refugee respondents expressed frustration with a number of issues, ranging from the current political leadership to the IGAD-led peace process and its emphasis on power sharing.

  • Respondents’ views differed in many areas, but there was a high degree of convergence in some key aspects. One related to the lack of information on the peace process, as nearly all respondents felt there was little accurate or trustworthy information.

  • Respondents expressed the widest range of views on the number of states, a reflection of current tensions. Views were largely divided along regional lines, exposing the lack of a shared vision on the future of governance in South Sudan.

  • All respondents expressed a strong desire to go back home. However, many were cautious about when that might be, and felt that years of evaluating the implementation of the peace agreements would be needed before it was safe to return.

  • While the interviewed refugee populations appear to be more consumers than influencers of political dynamics in South Sudan, they still expressed strong sentiments regarding ongoing developments, showing a hunger for information and a desire to contribute to the peace process.

Recommendations

To IGAD and the signatories and stakeholders of the R-ARCSS:

  • In line with section 1.4.3.1 of the R-ARCSS, accurate information on the agreement should be disseminated to the refugee community, both to prevent rumours from flourishing and to manage expectations of the process. IGAD could organise a series of non-politicised public forums in each major refugee camp or settlement area that refugees can attend and ask questions.

  • The outcomes of such consultations and sessions must be disseminated in a similar manner, in order for refugee communities to understand that their input was valued and utilised, thereby sustaining participation.

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To donors and host countries:

  • Dedicated information streams should be maintained for each refugee community, to ensure accurate and up-to-date information is transmitted. This could be a collaboration between the host countries, UNHCR, external donors and local news agencies.

  • Peacebuilding activities in refugee communities could be increased, especially those focused on communal relations. Refugee settlements should be transformed into areas where relations between various communities thrive, rather than perpetuate divisions. Donors and NGOs operating programmes in the camps and settlements should consider taking on more intercommunal peacebuilding projects, such as activities that bring together camp residents divided by ethnicity, in accordance with host country regulations.

[source: https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/nobody-came-ask-us-south-sudanese-refugee-perceptions-peace-process]

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