IRRI Submits Evidence on UK and International Engagement with South Sudan
On 3 July 2014 IRRI submitted a statement to the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan in response to a call for written evidence into “UK and International Engagement with South Sudan 2011-2014”. While mindful of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan that unequivocally deserves the attention of the international community, our intervention urges the UK government to ensure that it maintains its focus on the crucial demands of state-building in the world's newest state.
As the statement argues, if there is only an emergency response to the current situation without sufficient attention being paid to longer-term reconstruction, cycles of violence and displacement will remain unbroken and humanitarian assistance will be palliative.
Read the full submission here.
“It is a joke”. Ongoing conflict and controversies over "return" in Sudan's Darfur region
(17 July 2014) The International Refugee Rights Initiative released a new report today,"'It is a joke'. Ongoing conflict and controversies over 'return' in Sudan's Darfur region". The report brings the voices of the displaced to light, documenting their experiences around the controversial issue of return. It reveals that although the security situation in Darfur remains precarious, internally displaced people (IDPs) are coming under increasing pressure by the government of Sudan to leave the camps.
Although some of the displaced are returning, they are doing so in small numbers and in highly precarious circumstances. They are making rational choices, but they are doing so in a context of almost impossible odds. It is clear, therefore, that return is failing to take place in anything akin to “voluntarily, in safety and with dignity”, as required by the UN Guiding Principles.
Since the current conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region began in 2003, an estimated three million people have been displaced. Darfur may have faded from media headlines, but conflict and displacement have continued, and is now again on the increase. Over 300,000 have been displaced since the start of 2014, in part because former Janjaweed fighters, re-equipped and re-hatted as the government’s Rapid Support Force (RSF), have gone on the offensive.
The report, based on interviews with 119 individuals across the five states of Darfur, shows that despite the ongoing violence, people are moving to their villages temporarily or permanently. Those who are returning describe their motivation in terms of worsening conditions in the camps and reported numerous difficulties and dangers upon return.
This “return” – or rather the movement of displaced persons within Darfur – was described as happening in several ways.
The International Refugee Rights Initiative and the Fahamu Refugee Programme announce merger
(1 July 2014) It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Fahamu Refugee Programme (FRP) has merged with the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI).
The merger reinforces IRRI’s capacity to address refugee rights issues, bringing new opportunities and expertise and complementing our research and policy work with a focus on legal assistance. At the same time, integrating the staff of FRP into a larger and more established institutional structure will enhance FRP's capacity by bringing new opportunities to strengthen FRP’s work in promoting refugee rights through legal aid, the core of their mission.
With this merger, Themba Lewis, Co-Director of FRP, and Adrian Henderson, the Coordinator of the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network (SRLAN) will be integrated into IRRI’s Rights in Exile programme and Barbara Harrell-Bond, Co-Director and Founder of FRP will continue to be engaged through the IRRI advisory board.
We are convinced that together the two organizations will amount to more than the sum of their parts and be able to act more holistically and effectively for the benefit of refugees.The future is exciting.
The International community must act to end Sudan’s “unprecedented and intense” bombing of civilians
(10 June 2014) A coalition of 46 organizations, including the International Refugee Rights Initiative, providing humanitarian assistance or supporting peace efforts in Sudan has written to the UN Security Council, the African Union Peace and Security Council and the League of Arab States demanding an end to the “targeting of civilians by the Government of Sudan and associated armed militia” and an independent investigation of recent attacks.
According to their letter, the recent bombing has reached an intensity that is “unprecedented” in the history of the conflict in South Kordofan which reached its third year anniversary this month.
The coalition states that attacks on civilians and their property are occurring far from the frontlines of the conflict where there are no military targets, and therefore may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. They require immediate and impartial investigation to establish the facts and responsibility for any crimes committed.
These coordinated air and ground attacks are part of an escalating military campaign across the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) and Darfur which the Government of Sudan has publicly proclaimed is designed to crush the protracted armed rebellions.
The coalition has presented the UN Security Council, African Union and League of Arab States with verified evidence from the ground to back up its claims. Video footage and photographs show the destruction over four days in late May when close to 60 bombs were dropped from jets and Antonov aircraft on Kauda, the unofficial capital of rebel territory in South Kordofan.