“If We Leave We Are Killed: Lessons Learned from South Sudan Protection of Civilian Sites 2013-2016”
“If We Leave We Are Killed” is an independent report that analyses the unprecedented protection and humanitarian response at UN peacekeeping bases in South Sudan, where as many as 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought shelter from a vicious civil war since December 2013.
By opening its gates, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), alongside humanitarians, has saved thousands of lives. Conditions for IDPs within the Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites can be crowded and harsh, but the sites represent one of the only sources of safety for civilians as they continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.
Despite cautious optimism as implementation of the peace agreement moves forward, key stakeholders recognise that PoC sites are likely to remain necessary in the years to come.
In face of this reality, the Government of Switzerland and IOM commissioned this report to objectively examine the response at PoC sites, identify lessons learned in the past two and a half years and recommend key steps for improvement.
“My sincere hope is that this report leads to an open discussion among key actors, improving the response and protection offered to IDPs in UNMISS bases,” said Dr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, in his foreword to the report.
The report is informed by dozens of interviews with key stakeholders, including UNMISS and humanitarian staff, donors and IDPs themselves.
Among key takeaways, the report recommends that both UNMISS and humanitarians embark upon longer-term planning and strengthen coordination to ensure a safe and secure environment for IDPs, noting that the protection needs of IDPs must be addressed realistically by all.
Apon, an elder currently living the PoC site in Malakal, is one of the IDPs interviewed by the report's author, Michael Arensen. While describing the perilous course he undertook to reach the site in 2015, he acknowledged the very hard choice that many IDPs must make between living in crowded conditions and risking their lives outside the sites: “The PoC is hot, but it is better than death–if we leave we will be killed,” he observed.
The crisis in South Sudan has killed more than 50,000 people, internally displaced nearly 1.7 million and forced another 711,000 to flee to neighbouring countries. Confronted by multiple displacements and an unpredictable security environment, civilians in the country remain in dire need. The UN estimates that more than 6.1 million people will require humanitarian assistance this year.
Download the report at: https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/if_we_leave_0.pdf.