Humanitarian Response

From post-conflict recovery and state building to a renewed humanitarian emergency: A brief reflection on South Sudan

Published
2014
Author(s)
Daniel Maxwell and Martina Santschi
Institution/organisation
Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium
NGO associated?
Source URL
www.securelivelihoods.org
Summary
Since December 2013 – only two and a half years after it became an independent country – South Sudan has been mired in a deep political, military, and humanitarian crisis. Heavy fighting erupted on 15 December between members of armed forces in Juba, the capital. Tensions and power struggles within the leadership ranks of the leading political party of South Sudan – the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) – had preceded the fighting. The armed violence quickly spread to other states in South Sudan and has brought human rights violations, death, and destruction to Juba and to Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity States.1 Within a few weeks, several thousand South Sudanese were killed. As of mid-June 2014, about 1.5 million South Sudanese are displaced either within South Sudan or as refugees in neighbouring countries; 94,000 South Sudanese are sheltering in ‘Protection of Civilian’ locations protected by the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS); and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs projects that around 3.8 million South Sudanese need assistance in 2014 – only half of whom are being reached.2 A nationwide food security analysis led by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) in collaboration with development partners in June declared large parts of Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile States to be in a humanitarian emergency,3 and the President himself has raised the spectre of famine later in the year.4In response to the crisis, the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) began in early January to facilitate ceasefire talks between the main parties of conflict: the GRSS, led by the SPLM, and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). Since their onset, the Addis Ababa talks have been delayed several times. The GRSS and the SPLM/A-IO signed agreements on cessation of hostilities in January and again in May; but despite these agreements, the fighting continues and the new round of peace talks has been postponed.

This paper does not explore the background of the crisis. Many other reports have offered varying views of the events that led to the spreading violence in South Sudan. This paper is intended as a brief reflection on the current situation in South Sudan, based on meetings with GRSS, donors, humanitarian agencies, and members of South Sudanese civil society during a two-week mission by SLRC5 members in mid to late June. It outlines a few observations on the current situation; the breakdown of post- conflict mechanisms that were being put in place prior to the outbreak of the current violence in December; the peace process as it currently stands; and the humanitarian response. It concludes with some reflections on the need for better information and analysis, and outlines a short-term research agenda.

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Looking back to look ahead? Reviewing key lessons from Operation Lifeline Sudan and past humanitarian operations in South Sudan

Published
2014
Author(s)
Daniel Maxwell, Martina Santschi and Rachel Gordon
Institution/organisation
Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium
NGO associated?
Source URL
www.securelivelihoods.org
Summary
Since December 2013, South Sudan has once again been embroiled in wide-scale internal conflict, resulting in the internal displacement of 1.3 million people, with an additional 450,000 seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. The fighting and displacement has led to significantly increased requirements for humanitarian assistance, and a significantly scaled-up response, with some 3.8 million people in need, only 2.7 million of whom have been reached with some proportion of what they require (OCHA, 2014). Given the shortfalls in aid and the constraints – both physical and political – in accessing affected populations, there is widespread fear that the situation will deteriorate further before it improves. Humanitarian agencies have been trying to scale up operations over the past eight months, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
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Scenarios for South Sudan in 2020

Published
2016
Author(s)
Dr. Jaïr van der Lijn
Institution/organisation
PAX
NGO associated?
Summary
Although a peace agreement that includes important steps to build a stable andpeaceful South Sudan was signed in 2015, the future of the country remains highlyuncertain. Violent confrontations and human rights abuses continue and frequentlyit appears that parties have more faith in victory after a renewed offensive, than inpeace. Yet, although implementation of the peace agreement is lagging, talks progress, albeitpainfully slowly and with few results. In this environment, future scenarios are useful as theygather thoughts on possible long-term developments, stimulate open debate and may assist inpolicy planning.

The scenarios described in this report are intended to give a picture of how South Sudan mightlook in 2020, determined by three key uncertainties:

1 Will life in South Sudan be dominated by war and armed political conflict or willthere be predominantly peace – or at least the absence of large-scale armedpolitical violence?

2 Will South Sudan make progress towards good governance or will the countryface a further downturn towards bad governance?

3 Will governance in South Sudan be further decentralised (by design or violently)or will there be no further decentralisation and central governance is perhaps strengthened even further?

The five scenarios presented in this report are:

1 United in diversity: The 2015 peace agreement holds and the peace processleads to a further decentralised federal system and better guarantees for goodgovernance. The organisation of free and fair elections is one of the first stepsin a long and difficult process towards sustainable peace.

2 Divided leadership: After the opposition rejects the election results, its forcesoccupy part of the country, effectively splitting the country in two. The war stabilisesalong a frontline and consequently some of the improvements that had beenmade in good governance and development are maintained.

3 Fragmentation: After the peace agreement breaks down, slowly the governmentcollapses and opposition groups fragment. South Sudan lacks any form of nationalgovernance system. Politics is local and about the highest price: life and security.

4 21 Kingdoms: After a bloody victory of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movementin Opposition (SPLM-IO), South Sudan is divided into 21 states based on ethnicpower divisions. Some states do reasonably well, while others face ethnic conflictsand autocracy.

5 Dictatorship: With the SPLM-IO reduced to a low-level insurgency, the SudanPeople’s Liberation Movement in Government (SPLM-IG) embraces anyonewilling to return back to the party. The new 28 states do not lead to furtherdecentralisation as the SPLM-IG leadership reduces the political space for anyremaining opposition and dissent.

The first main message from the scenarios is that there is hope. If the parties stick to the 2015peace agreement and implement, consolidate and deepen the peace process, slowly South Sudanmay be on the road towards a positive future: the United in diversity scenario.

The second main message is that, if this is not the case, the 2015 peace agreement does nothold and the peace process is not opened-up, the future is far less hopeful. Broadly speaking,the scenarios show that the alternatives to the scenario United in diversity, as portrayed in thefour other scenarios, entail horrible devastation and/or repression.
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Developing strategic responses to displacement in South Sudan

Published
2016
Author(s)
Christine Johnson, Dr. Edward Thomas and David Mozersky with Naana Marekia
Institution/organisation
Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
NGO associated?
Summary
Given the dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, DFID commissioned research into patternsof displacement in order to guide policy and planning. The feildwork covered the areas mostaffected by the post-2013 conflict; Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity. It did not cover the newareas of conflict (e.g. the Equatorias) which would merit further work. The researchers visitedProtection of Civilians (POC) sites, informal internally displaced person (IDP) settlementsreceiving international or government assistance, and dispersed places hosting displacedpeople which are either not receiving assistance or only assistance from a local community.

Sites were chosen to ensure a mix of factors, including displacement in zones of active orrecent conflict as well as relatively stable areas, and whether IDPs were living among peopleperceived as being on the same side in the conflict or not. In all cases, people were accessedthrough partnerships with organisations with strong links to communities. The findings weretested at a validation workshop held in Juba, and the report was externally reviewed.
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When Peace is the Exception: Shifting the Donor Narrative in South Sudan

Published
2015
Author(s)
Jort Hemmer & Nick Grinstead
Institution/organisation
Clingendael
NGO associated?
Source URL
http://www.clingendael.nl
Summary
The crisis in South Sudan calls for a critical reflection on past and forthcoming aidpractices in the country, and on the assumptions and ambitions that underpin them.

On the whole, donor engagement in South Sudan has been based on a flawedsituational framing, informing a dominant theory of change that disregarded key eliteinterests, misjudged the main conflict driver, promoted a culture of appeasement,and obscured symptoms of a deeply rooted crisis of governance. As this crisispushed itself to the fore in mid-December 2013, the old narrative of development andpartnership has become untenable. Donors should prepare and plan for working inan environment where armed conflict is cyclical and where periods of relative calmoffer limited options for longer-term development schemes or sustainable reform,narrowing the scope for constructive engagement and enhancing the risks involved.
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Promoting humanitarian principles: the southern Sudan experience

Published
1997
Author(s)
Iain Levine
Institution/organisation
Overseas Development Institute
NGO associated?
Source URL
http://www.oneworld.org/odi/rrn/index.html
Summary
Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) seeks to integrate humanitarian principles and the protection of civilians
within its mandate and operations. This paper details the ways in which these laws and principles were promoted through negotiation, advocacy, dissemination and training and the monitoring and follow-up of violations and abuses. It seeks to distil specific lessons from working with armed opposition movements, as distinct from sovereign governments, in particular the concern of humanitarian agencies that they may provide or be seen to provide legitimacy to those who mistreat their populations.

Aid agencies working in south Sudan have sought to place the protection of civilians and the integrity of humanitarian assistance at the centre of their mandate. This approach sees complex emergencies as social and political phenomena, as much crises of human rights as of humanitarian need. In such situations, the victims of conflict require not only material assistance but also protection of their safety, dignity and basic human rights. A fundamental assumption of the paper is that, as pointed out by the detailed Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda (1996), lack of coherent political and policy leadership amongst aid agencies has led to many of their programmes failing those whom they seek to help.

Protection of civilians is achieved through the application of international law and principles such as the primacy of the humanitarian imperative, neutrality, impartiality, accountability, transparency and the protection of victims. The challenge lies not simply with the definition of the legal and ethical standards but in their implementation and enforcement.

The OLS experience is used to highlight broader dilemmas confronting the international humanitarian community. These include the lack of coherent political leadership in most humanitarian programmes,

sovereignty issues, the trade-offs between protection and assistance, the role of coordination in defining and protecting mandates, and the conditions under which the withdrawal of assistance might be considered morally acceptable.

Underpinning this paper is the assertion that

humanitarian principles and standards should lie at the centre of such programmes. While recognising that political authorities are ultimately responsible for protecting civilians and the integrity of humanitarian assistance, implementing agencies and those who fund them also need to address these issues more effectively.

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