GENEVA, Switzerland, January 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, today urged the UN system and the international community to give total priority to the safety and security of South Sudan’s displaced populations.
“The armed conflict in South Sudan has resulted in a widespread displacement and protection crisis, and violence continues unabated despite the agreement to cease hostilities reached on 23 January,” Mr. Beyani noted. “In attending to this crisis, we as a whole system must ensure that protection is up front, and not fail in protecting South Sudan’s internally displaced.”
“Targeted attacks against civilians, including women and children, are not acceptable,” the expert stated with concern over the ethnic politicization of the armed conflict that has uprooted almost 650,000 South Sudanese. Some 80,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sought refuge in protected areas of the UN Mission in South Sudan, while the majority fled elsewhere within the country.
The UN Special Rapporteur drew special attention to those displaced before the crisis: “There is urgent need to put in place a holistic system for protecting internally displaced persons in South Sudan,” he said, reiterating one of his key recommendations after his first official visit to the country in November 2013 (check his press statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13998&LangID=E).
“The congested situation within the UN bases has started to create risks for IDPs,” Mr. Beyani warned. “While decongestion of the sites is advisable, this cannot be a quick and standalone measure amid South Sudan’s ongoing crisis, but must be embedded in a long-term comprehensive strategy on internal displacement.”
“The safety and security of the displaced populations must be the absolute priority for the United Nations to safeguard, the expert said. “IDPs must not be forced or induced to leave these areas and robust physical protection of civilians irrespective of the source of the threat is critical now.”