UN rights expert calls for protection of IDPs in South Sudan - UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Mr. Chaloka Beyani, says congestion at UN bases in South Sudan has started to create risks for the 85,000 displaced civilians seeking shelter there, but they must not be forced or induced to leave.
Mr. Beyani in a statement obtained by PANA in New York on Saturday, said while decongestion of the sites was advisable, this could not be a quick and standalone measure amid South Sudan’s ongoing crisis, but must be embedded in a long-term comprehensive strategy on internal displacement.
'The safety and security of the displaced populations must be the absolute priority for the United Nations to safeguard,' he said.
Mr. Beyani said that the international community must also give total priority to the safety and security of the displaced populations.
He said targeted attacks against civilians, including women and children, were not acceptable, while expressing concern over the ethnic politicization of the armed conflict.
The special rapporteur also drew special attention to those displaced before the crisis, noting that there was urgent need to put in place a holistic system for protecting internally displaced persons in South Sudan.
Mr. Beyani in November last year visited the country to assess the condition of IDPs.
The fighting has displaced an estimated 740,000 inside South Sudan since mid-December, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
More than 123,000 people have also fled to neighbouring countries, including Sudan, where the Sudanese Red Crescent Society is working with UN agencies and humanitarian partners to register new arrivals and provide aid, including food, water, shelter and health care.
Senior UN officials have stressed that the primary responsibility for protection of civilians rests with the Government of President Salva Kiir.
There is hope that the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in Ethiopia last week will lead to an end to the fighting.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission in South Sudan on Friday said that an estimated 85,157 civilians were seeking protection in eight UNMISS bases throughout the country.
The figures include 43,261 people in Juba and 2,537 in Bentiu, while in Bor and Malakal, the figures of 10,000 and 27,783, respectively, are changing with continuous in-and-out movements.
In Pibor, some 425 people, primarily women and children, fled to the UNMISS base following rumours that anti-government forces were in the area.