Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 12:01 GMT

Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - South Sudan

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 29 April 2013
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - South Sudan, 29 April 2013, available at: [accessed 24 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Number of IDPsAt least 240,000
Percentage of total populationAt least 2.3%
Start of displacement situation1983
Peak number of IDPs (year)4,000,000 (2004)
New displacement in 2012190,000 reported
Causes of displacementx International armed conflict
✓ Internal armed conflict
x Deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement
✓ Communal violence
x Criminal violence
x Political violence
Human development index
Kampala ConventionUnsigned

NOTE: Figures for both Sudan and South Sudan do not take into account the number of people affected by internal displacement in Abyei Area where at least 56,000 people are thought to remain displaced following violence in May 2011. Some 14,000 are thought to have returned to their places of origin since early 2012, and thousands more continue to commute regularly between places of origin and places of displacement. Displacement dynamics within the area are complex and include displacement, return and nomadic migration. While relatively stable, gaps in governance, infrastructure, housing, basic services and livelihood opportunities continue to hinder recovery and there remains a risk of inter-communal violence linked to seasonal migration and competition for resources. Without a political agreement on the status of Abyei the affected populations are unlikely to find durable solutions, even in return.

South Sudan's hopes for peace following its declaration of independence in July 2011 are slowly giving way to violence and displacement. This is associated with continued border disputes with Sudan and armed conflict and inter-communal fighting within the country. Institutional obstacles to data collection and severely restricted access to large parts of the country mean accurate data on displacement flows remains a key challenge. Since independence, any tracking has focused primarily on new displacements, and there is little information on IDP returns within South Sudan. Those figures that do exist point to new displacements in some areas and significant obstacles to return and reintegration processes.

As of December 2012, at least 240,000 people were thought to be living in displacement in South Sudan, of whom at least 190,000 were newly displaced over the course of the year. As many as 155,000 people of South Sudanese origins who were displaced prior to independence returned from Sudan, and another 40,000, currently living in precarious conditions in Khartoum, are expected to return. The country has also experienced large influxes of refugees from increasing violence in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Over 20,000 returnees are thought to remain in transit sites on the border, and many of those who have returned to the country, often to sites close to contested border areas, are faced with little or no access to basic services and few employment opportunities. Some returnees lack the documents needed to claim citizenship, which is a prerequisite to accessing land and basic services such as health and education. The extent to which returnees have been able to choose their destination remains unclear.

The majority of new displacements in South Sudan have taken place in Jonglei state, where inter-communal tensions, competition over resources and an ongoing armed uprising led by the David Yau Yau militia displaced more than 123,000 people during 2012. Civilians bear the brunt of attacks, with incidents of extreme violence reported including the killing of infants and children and indications of a rapidly growing trend of sexual and gender-based violence. The recruitment of children into armed groups is also a major concern.

In Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and Unity states, more than 50,000 people fled their homes during 2012, as a result of border tensions with Sudan and also to escape inter-communal violence. Another 10,000 are thought to be displaced in Upper Nile.

No Lords Resistance Army (LRA) attacks were reported in 2012 and around 21,000 people previously displaced by LRA in Western Equatoria state returned to their homes. Around 50,000 people remain displaced.

Floods displaced as many as 340,000 people across the whole country, particularly in Jonglei.

High levels of food insecurity, weak state governance and limited public services and transport infrastructure add to the vulnerability of the displaced population. This is compounded by an economic crisis that saw 75 per cent inflation and a 40 per cent depreciation of the South Sudanese pound in 2012. More than half of South Sudan's population lives below the poverty line.

Humanitarian funding stood at more than $794 million, 67.4 per cent of the $1.1 billion requested in the 2012 CAP humanitarian appeal. The protection cluster was the least funded at just 32 per cent. South Sudan's decision to halt oil production in January caused a drop of up to 98 per cent in national revenues, and led international aid organisations to focus on responding to humanitarian needs over longer-term development initiatives. Sustained suppor t by the international community for the return and reintegration process of those returning from Sudan is therefore limited.

This reflects a broader gap in support for durable solutions in South Sudan as humanitarian interventions are prioritised. South Sudan is still to sign the Kampala Convention, but it acceded to the Great Lakes Pact in October 2012. As it is signatory to a clear normative framework for dealing with all stages of displacement, this represents an opportunity to develop a national policy in support of durable solutions that can be integrated into a broader national development strategy.

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