Analysis of the context, crisis and needs
Conditions are not yet conducive for facilitating safe and dignified voluntary repatriation to South Sudan due to ongoing armed conflict and human rights violations. This is despite the signature of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) by the warring parties in September 2018 and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in February 2020. Some South Sudanese refugees have spontaneously returned to their country, but large-scale forced displacement continues within the country, and new refugee influxes have been registered in all asylum countries in 2020.
RRP partners in all countries are working with host Governments to promote the inclusion of refugees in national systems and ensure their access to basic services alongside host communities. However, considerable challenges remain. The majority of South Sudanese refugees in the region are hosted in relatively remote, underdeveloped and economically underserved areas. Host communities often find themselves in a precarious socioeconomic situation, impacted by food insecurity and malnutrition. They can suffer from limited access to basic social services and economic infrastructure, as well as scarce livelihood opportunities. The presence of refugees could further exacerbate their situation by increasing competition over limited social services, livelihood opportunities and natural resources. These development-related challenges need to be addressed urgently to prevent tensions between refugees and host communities, which could negatively impact the protection and safety of refugees. The COVID-19 pandemic and severe floods in some countries in the region have exacerbated the already dire situation.
South Sudanese refugees face serious protection risks, particularly SGBV, due to harmful traditional practices, loss of income and livelihood opportunities, school closures, overcrowded shelters, lack of domestic energy supply and reduced humanitarian assistance. Refugee children make up 65 per cent of the population and are exposed to particular risks. The situation of tens of thousands of unaccompanied and separated children is particularly concerning, as many suffer harassment, exploitation, neglect and abuse. Large numbers of refugee children are out of school because of the pandemic and because high poverty levels compel some children to work instead.
As a result, many children are exposed to child labour, early marriage and onward movement, including smuggling and trafficking. Effective identification, assessment and targeted support to children at risk remain limited and are compounded by the lack of specialized child-protection services, particularly in remote areas.
Projected situation in 2021 and beyond
RRP partners will strengthen national child-protection systems, including birth registration, prioritize family reunification and alternative care placement, and enhance access to quality education. RRP partners will also intensify SGBV prevention and response, prioritize support to persons with specific needs, consolidate community-based protection mechanisms and scale up psychosocial and mental health support.
RRP partners will continue to reinforce the response and to meet the life-saving needs of South Sudanese refugees, while strengthening national protection and resilience mechanisms in asylum countries. There is an urgent need to create better conditions to promote the self-reliance of refugees in asylum countries through increased livelihood opportunities, expansion of cash assistance and socioeconomic inclusion of refugees, particularly in the areas of health, education and jobs. It is essential to increase freedom of movement and refugee access to markets including small-scale farming to address chronic food insecurity due to repeated ration cuts. RRP partners will aim to integrate the refugee response with development plans and efforts to promote socioeconomic growth.
Response priorities in 2021
The 2021 South Sudan RRP outlines the multi-agency response strategy and financial requirements of 94 partners, supporting host Governments to provide protection and assistance across the five main asylum countries. The updated plan, developed in accordance with the Refugee Coordination Model, takes a comprehensive and solutions-oriented approach and includes the impact on host communities. The 2021 RRP for South Sudan envisages stronger engagement with development and peacebuilding partners. It recognizes the need to move beyond emergency assistance to strengthen the resilience and self-reliance of South Sudanese refugees, and to support host communities to strengthen a peaceful coexistence.
DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda have developed refugee responses in line with the GCR, articulating prioritized multi-stakeholder responses. The establishment of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Support Platform, launched at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019, coupled with the pledges made by South Sudan and the five RRP countries, will contribute to an integrated protection and solutions strategy for South Sudanese refugees.
The RRP will facilitate refugees’ participation in peacebuilding initiatives, promoting social cohesion between refugee and host communities and national reconciliation efforts in South Sudan. Interventions are also foreseen to promote sustainable energy and prevent or reverse environmental degradation linked to refugee sites. COVID-19 prevention and response activities will continue, and critical gaps in the WASH sector will be prioritized throughout 2021.
- The people in need and people targeted figures include refugees, as well as impacted members of host communities. They are, however, provisional and subject to ongoing operational planning for 2021. Financial requirements are preliminary, and pending finalization and approval by partners.