South Sudan

South Sudan Ratifies African Refugee Convention

Ahmed Warsame,

By Muhammad Lule Kirwana

The   United Nations High Commission for   Refugees   has welcomed the decision   by South   Sudan   to   accede   to   the   1969    OAU Convention governing   the   specific   aspects   of   refugee   problems   in   Africa.

The   instruments   of   accession   were deposited   at   the   African   Union   in   Addis   Ababa   on   19   May   2016    and   the   Convention   has   now   entered into force in South Sudan.

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With this, ampoule South Sudan becomes the 46th country to have ratified the convention. The country also adopted a national legislation on refugees in 2012 and established a commission for Refugee Affairs to coordinate the government response to asylum seekers.

In a press statement seen by Chimpreports, Ahmed Warsame, the UNHCR representative in South Sudan said such action signals commitment to meeting international standards for refugee protection and provides them with additional legal instruments to advocate for refugee rights.

“This   is   very   much   consistent   with   the   government’s   open  door  policy  to  asylum  seekers  and  the  welcoming  attitude  of  the  South  Sudanese  people.”  Warsame said.

The   OAU   Convention,   adopted    on   10   September   1969    at   the   sixth   ordinary   session   of   the   OAU’s  Assembly   of   Heads   of   State   and   Government,   is   a   regional   complement   to   the   1951   UN   Convention  Relating  to  the  Status  of  Refugees,  for  which  South  Sudan  has  embarked  upon  the  accession  process.  It contains   a   wider   definition   of   a   refugee   compared   to   the   1951   Convention   and offers   legal   protection   to   a   broader   category   of   people,   including   those   fleeing   war   and   civil   strife.   “We  congratulate  South  Sudan  on  this  achievement  and  we  stand  ready  to  support  the  country  in  becoming  a  party   to   the   1951   Convention   with   no   reservations,”   says Warsame.

UNHCR works     closely     with     the     Commission for Refugee     Affairs and partner  organization  to  provide  assistance  and  protection  to  more  than  260,000  refugees seeking refuge in South Sudan .  Majority   of the refugees in South Sudan are  Sudanese   from    South    Kordofan    and    Blue   Nile   states,    with    smaller    numbers    from    the   Democratic  Republic  of  the  Congo,  Ethiopia  and  Central  African  Republic. Interestingly as South Sudan gives sanctuary to refugees from neighboring countries, close to half of its own population is either internally or externally displaced.

More than one million South Sudanese people are living as refugees in neighboring countries.  For example Uganda is home to 373,626,   South Sudanese refugees with majority arriving after the resumption of fighting in July. Ethiopia has 292,000 refugees, Sudan 247,317, Kenya 90.000 while   40,000 South Sudanese refugees are currently living in DR   Congo .


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