The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan held a panel discussion “5 years on from independence: Where next for South Sudan?”, on 29 November.
We would like to thank Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (BK), Vice-Chair of the APPG for Sudan & South Sudan, for chairing this event.
The speakers were:
- Anna Oosterlinck – Member, the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan (AO);
- Emma Fanning – Humanitarian Policy Advisor (South Sudan lead), Oxfam (EF);
- Rosalind Marsden – Former Ambassador to Sudan & Associate Fellow, Chatham House (RM).
The main points which arose were as follows:
- The security situation in South Sudan, including in the Equatorias region, is very concerning and likely to deteriorate further, particularly with the approaching dry season. (RM)
- There are currently an estimated 1.8 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the country, and 1.1 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, and 1.1 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Cases of cholera have increased; 1 in 3 people now face severe food insecurity and many people lack access to medicines. (EF)
- The government has spent 50% of its budget on the military, leaving essential services without adequate funding. In addition to the dramatic rise in inflation – 850% in July, there is little chance to earn a wage in South Sudan. (EF)
- Political divisions are growing, including along ethnic lines, particularly following the removal of SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar. (RM & EF)
- The increase in hate speech in the country, most notably through social media, (RM & AO) is increasing tensions and hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid. (EF)
- There is an increasing need for humanitarian aid in South Sudan, yet aid is becoming more difficult to get in, with aid workers under attack, and inadequate funding and capacity limitations. Between July and October, 13 humanitarian aid workers were killed, and many aid organisations have been evacuated due to the violence. The regional humanitarian aid response to South Sudan has only been 27% funded. (EF)
- The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has noted the potential for genocide in South Sudan. As the violence escalates along ethnic lines, there are fears of a process of genocide developing which the international community must act immediately to prevent. (AO + BK
- Political inclusivity is key to ending the conflict. The international community must help calm the rhetoric and ensure a wide range of voices are heard. (RM)
- An arms embargo and the possibility of targeted sanctions should be used to get decision-makers to come to the table. Civil society has a key role to play too. The creation of a hybrid court to end impunity, which has fuelled the cycle of mass-atrocities, should also be considered. (AO)
- The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) should play a key role in providing protection and should be reformed. (EF)
The PHRG will continue to monitor the situation in South Sudan, in particular increasing hate speech, and raise its concerns with relevant interlocutors.
The United Nations panel of experts in September 2016 presented a letter to the President of the Security Council regarding the situation in South Sudan and the need for action, which can be read here.