31 December 2013 |

Sudan: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2013


At least 470,000 people were newly displaced in Sudan in 2013. They fled increased fighting between armed groups, pro-government militias and the security forces, inter-communal violence and tribal conflicts in states including South and North Kordofan, Blue Nile and the Darfur States.

Increased competition for natural resources, including land, water, gold and arabic gum, led to a rise in inter-communal and tribal conflict, mainly in Darfur. In April, violent clashes over land broke out between the Misseriya and Salamat tribes, causing the displacement of tens of thousands of people, some of whom fled across the border into Chad. There were also tensions between the Sudanese and South Sudanese governments, who accused each other of supporting armed groups on their respective territories. A joint statement was issued in September banning armed groups from the demilitarised area along the border and reopening crossing points for oil export in an effort to reduce the tension.

At least 2,426,700 IDPs were in need of assistance as of the end of 2013, 200,000 more than at the end of 2012. Darfur, which is difficult to access because of insecurity and hostilities, had 1,982,500 IDPs, most of them living in camps. South Kordofan had 222,200 and Blue Nile 176,600 and 45,500 IDPs were living in other states according to OCHA. Relatively little is known about IDPs who live in informal settlements, with host families or in urban settings.

IDPs have been victims of targeted attacks and looting, and face serious threats to their physical security and moral integrity, which is their primary human rights concern. Explosive remnants of war and the proliferation of small arms also represent considerable risks. Gender-based violence is widespread. It has been both a result and a cause of displacement, and IDPs are more vulnerable than the general population to such abuses. Former IDPs of South Sudanese origin in Khartoum face possible statelessness as a result of their country’s independence. Such concerns are worsened by the fact that most IDPs have significant humanitarian needs, particularly in terms of food, health and shelter.

They also continue to face significant challenges in their search for durable solutions, and there is no data to properly evaluate any progress that might have been made. Ongoing insecurity and violence prevented IDPs from returning, and returnees were displaced again in 2013. Access to services, livelihoods and land were further obstacles. Despite the government’s focus on return, it is thought that many IDPs in Darfur would prefer to integrate locally in urban or semi-urban areas.

There has been some progress in the implementation of agreements and frameworks relevant to supporting IDPs at both the national and regional level, but it has generally been slow and insufficient. Sudan adopted a national policy covering all phases of displacement in 2009. It favours return to the potential detriment of other options, and limited political will and weak capacity mean that implementation has been poor. The government was revising the policy in 2013. The Humanitarian Aid Commission is the key coordinating body for assistance and is also charged with providing technical help and supporting the planning, implementation and evaluation of responses.

Sudan is a party to the Great Lakes Pact and its protocols, but has not yet signed the Kampala Convention. There are also a number of agreements that provide for IDPs’ assistance in specific areas of the country, such as the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and a 2012 tripartite agreement on humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. As of the end of 2013, however, neither had led to an effective response. Implementation of DDPD has been slowed by a lack of funding and capacity, and the parties to the tripartite agreement have failed to agree an action plan to put it into practice.

Major challenges for the international response, apart from insecurity, included the government’s access restrictions to certain regions. These impeded the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and the collection of good quality data with which to properly assess IDPs’ needs. A serious shortage of funding also hampered both humanitarian and development initiatives, with the 2013 humanitarian work plan funded at only 55%. The sectors relevant to protection and durable solutions were among the least funded.