Refugee Rights News






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Protecting some of the people some of the time: Civilian perspectives on peacekeeping forces in South Sudan

(Kampala, 15 December 2015) On the two-year anniversary of the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, IRRI has published a new report, “Protecting some of the people some of the time: Civilian perspectives on peacekeeping forces in South Sudan. The report examines civilian perspectives of peacekeeping forces in South Sudan within the broader context of the conflict and the protection challenges facing civilians, including the need for protection from atrocities.

Despite the fact that the speed and scale of what took place in December 2013 caught UNMISS by surprise, the mission responded by opening up a number of its bases to civilians fleeing the conflict. Our research found that civilians were grateful for the protection provided by this action. As one PoC resident in Juba said, “If it was not because of peacekeepers all of us would have been killed.” In interviews, UNMISS personnel spoke about this action as a way of upholding their responsibility to the population, recognising that this had avoided another “Rwanda situation”. The failure to act then has haunted peacekeeping missions since 1994.

Read the full press release.

Read the full report.

Read the press coverage of the report:
- African Arguments article
- NPR article
- Delaware Public Media article
- AllAfrica article
- Africa Times article
- article
- Sudan Tribune article


Renewing the Promise of the International Criminal Court: A Critical Review of the Court’s Role in Promoting Accountability in Africa

When the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC or “the Court”) was adopted in 1998, it was greeted with great fanfare by human rights activists around the world as an important milestone in the progress of the human rights movement. As the Court began to investigate its first cases in 2003-04, many civil society organisations (CSOs) in Africa moved eagerly to work with and support the Court, filled with energy, idealism and the belief that this institution had the power to profoundly change entrenched power dynamics and advance human rights on the African continent.

Surveying the situation now, this idealism had been largely replaced with frustration. In the courtroom, successful prosecutions had proven difficult to mount, and at the time the meeting was held, the case against Uhuru Kenyatta was, as a best case scenario, facing indefinite postponement.

Read the full report.
En francais.


“Voluntary” departures from Israel leave asylum seekers without status and vulnerable

(08 September 2015) A new report launched today by the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) exposes how Israeli transfers of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Uganda and Rwanda leaves them without status and vulnerable to exploitation. “Our research shows that Israel is not only failing to respect its own obligations under international law, but is directly increasing the vulnerability of these asylum seekers and contributing to migration flows to other African countries and to the EU,” said IRRI’s Executive Director Andie Lambe.

The report, “I was left with nothing”: “Voluntary” departures of asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda and Uganda, is based on interviews with over 20 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who were sent from Israel to Uganda and Rwanda between February 2014 and May 2015. Despite claims that the departures are voluntary, all of the interviewees stated that they had left as a result of their detention or the threat thereof, and because they felt that they would not be able to acquire a legal status that would allow them to lead a normal, stable life in Israel. They chose to leave not because they wanted to go to the third countries offered, but because they could not go home. In the words of one Eritrean asylum seeker: “They said: ‘you can either go to your country or to Rwanda.’ I said: ‘if I could go to my country, why would I even be in Israel to begin with?’

Read the full press release (English, Hebrew)
Read the full report.

Read the press coverage of the report:
- Lucy Hovil, “Israel: Refugees not Welcome,” 21 September 2015
- The Guardian article
- Al Jazeera, "Rejected by Israel, Eritreans find shelter in Germany," 3 March 2017
- Rebélion article
- Radio France International Interview
- Al Jazeera, "A refugee's gruelling odyssey - from Eritrea to Germany," 5 October 2015
- Al Jazeera, "Do refugees have a choice?," 24 November 2016
- Al Jazeera TV report (not available in U.S.)
- Fulton News article
- Oxford University Factuly of Law article
- article (in German)
- The East African article
- African Arguments article
- Vice News article
- Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat article


Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Sudan 2016

(September 2015) The Bill of Rights enshrined in Sudan’s 2005 Interim National Constitution (INC) guarantees a number of rights and Article 27(3) provides that all human rights treaties ratified by Sudan are an integral part of it. Despite this, a number of Sudan’s laws infringe on fundamental rights and freedoms and fail to provide effective remedies. The Constitutional Court has failed to consistently uphold or interpret domestic legislation in line with the Bill of Rights and international treaties binding on Sudan.

Read the full report.


South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani District, Uganda: Telling a new story?

(1 July 2015)  While Europe squabbles over the acceptance of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers arriving over the Mediterranean, over the past year 154,134 refugees of South Sudanese origin alone have been assisted in Uganda, with Adjumani District receiving around 87 new arrivals every day. Despite the fact that Adjumani is itself recovering from decades of conflict, national and local officials and the host population are finding ways to accommodate refugees both inside and out of the camps.

Almost a year since the launch of UNHCR’s Policy on Alternatives to Camps, research undertaken by IRRI, “South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani District, Uganda: Telling a new story?” explores both the factors that compel refugees to remain within a camp structure, and those that enable them to move outside.

Read the full press release.
Read the full report.


"Your silence is a shame to humanity."

(21 April 2015) A new report launched today by the International Refugee Rights Initiative and the National Human Rights Monitoring Organisation brings the voices of civilians living through the conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State to the international community.

Focusing on the devastating impact of the conflict on every aspect of people’s lives, the report highlights the extraordinary resilience and resistance of the civilian population. Inevitably, however, this resilience is also being worn away by the continuing onslaught.

Since 2012, an average of three bombs a day have been dropped indiscriminately by the government of Sudan onto civilians living in rebel held areas. With humanitarian access denied by the government and increasing numbers being displaced, people’s ability to survive grows more precarious by the day. Living with the daily threat of aerial bombardment, of government land forces breaking through and a chronic lack of food and medicine, the resilience of this population is being severely depleted. Meanwhile the international community remains, for the most part, silent.

As one interviewee said, after surviving a bomb attack: “I am sending my voice loudly to the international community and the Security Council to stop this government from killing its own civilians and to protect them. Your silence is a shame to humanity.”

Read the full press release.
Read the full paper.