South Sudan: South Sudan UNHCR Operational Update 5/2016, 1 to 15 March 2016
UNHCR commemorates International Women’s Day with refugees and IDPs – On 8 March, the International Women’s Day, UNHCR and partners marked the annual commemoration with a wide range of activities in refugee camps and sites for internally displaced people across South Sudan, including poems and awareness campaigns about women’s resilience, sports, drama and processions under the theme “pledge for gender parity.”
UNHCR reaches out to vulnerable IDPs with non-food items across South Sudan – UNHCR distributed non-food items to 8,291 vulnerable internally displaced people in Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei, Lakes, Western Equatoria and Central Equatoria, including blankets, mats, kitchen sets, jerry cans, buckets, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, soap and sanitary pads for women of reproductive age.
UNHCR and FAO begin implementation of a livelihoods project in Central Equatoria – In Lasu settlement, UNHCR and partner UMCOR registered 2,620 families (1,834 refugee families and 786 host community families) for distribution of agricultural inputs such as field crops seeds, vegetable seeds and tools, as part of a strategy to enhance livelihoods opportunities in cooperation with the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO).
On 14 March, the Troika, consisting of the US, Norway and Britain, confirmed that it will not transport the first security team of the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) forces to Juba with heavy weapons, in line with the rules of their membership and the provisions of the peace agreement. Last week, both parties blamed the Troika for failing to transport 1,370 opposition troops to Juba. These forces are required in the capital for the return of First Vice-President Riek Machar, who would then work with President Salva Kiir to form a transitional government. The Troika said they could only transport the forces with light weapons.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report on 11 March, describing “in searing detail” a multitude of horrendous human rights violations, including a Government-operated “scorched earth policy,” and deliberate targeting of civilians for killing, rape and pillage. Although all parties to the conflict have committed patterns of serious and systematic violence against civilians since December 2013, the report says state actors bore the greatest responsibility during 2015, given the weakening of opposition forces. From April to September 2015, the UN recorded more than 1,300 reports of rape in Unity only. According to OHCHR, no new support should be given to South Sudanese authorities until major reforms are undertaken toward justice and accountability. The South Sudan presidency said UN report is ‘unethical.’
On 11 March, the United Nations announced they would conduct an investigation into how the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) responded to clashes on 17 and 18 February in its Protection of Civilians (POC) site in Malakal.
Amnesty International released a report on 10 March describing in detail one particular incident of war crimes and other violations of human rights by government forces in Leer town. Between 20 and 23 October 2015, South Sudanese government forces detained dozens of individuals, primarily men, but also some boys, in at least one shipping container in Leer town, causing the death of 62 people.
According to WFP South Sudan Market Price Monitoring Bulletin, the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) underwent further depreciation, fueling an already very high cost of living for households highly dependent on markets, particularly the urban poor, vulnerable populations in rural areas and the displaced who have limited or no access to humanitarian assistance. Year-on-year inflation grew by 216 percent, an unprecedented historical high. The black market exchange rate of the SSP against the US Dollar (USD) reached 36 SSP/1US$ in the second week of March 2016, slightly higher than the official rate of 32 SSP/1US$.