GENEVA – Today, on the margins of UNHCR’s annual Executive Committee proceedings, the Foreign Ministers of Sudan and South Sudan held a meeting chaired by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and attended by the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, at which they agreed to begin an IGAD-led regional initiative to seek solutions to protracted displacement in Sudan and South Sudan.
With the recent signing of the Juba Peace Agreement between Sudan’s Transitional Government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front and others on 3 October 2020, and the continued efforts in implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) signed on 12 September 2018, all parties present agreed it is a unique opportunity to find lasting solutions for displaced persons from the two countries.
As part of the IGAD-led process, a High-Level Meeting is foreseen to take place during an IGAD Heads of State Special Summit that is planned for the first quarter of 2021. The aim will be to agree on the early recovery and longer-term peacebuilding and resilience needs for five million Sudanese and South Sudanese internally displaced persons, refugees and returnees, and to urge the international community to show solidarity and support the process.
The High-Level Meeting is in line with the Nairobi Declaration, an agreement by IGAD countries to have a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for refugees while also maintaining protection and promoting self-reliance in the countries of asylum. In addition, the process will be an initiative of the IGAD Support Platform launched during the Global Refugee Forum in December last year, and which consists of humanitarian and development organizations, donors, private sector and other partners committing to show solidarity by providing concrete technical, financial and development support to refugees in the IGAD region.
All parties further agreed that key factors for achieving success will be the participation of refugees, IDPs, and returnees in the process, full regional engagement especially with countries hosting Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees, the crucial roles and contributions of other UN actors, and more support from the international community. A first preparatory meeting will take place in Khartoum at the end of the month.
The IGAD member states are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Currently, there are over 1.8 million Sudanese internally displaced, mainly in the Darfur region, and over 700,000 refugees located in neighbouring countries. Figures for South Sudanese include some 2.2 million refugees in the region and another 1.6 million displaced within the country.