The NGO Forum has called for the maintaining of the protection of civilians site in Malakal town of Upper Nile to accommodate civilians displaced by the intermittent violence.
“We (NGOs) have been registering the daily arrival of people who are running away from insecurity in their communities, including but not limited to Fashoda and Tonga. As a humanitarian community working in the protection site, the fact that the IDPs feel safe inside the PoC other than in the surrounding communities’ means a lot,” said Cissy Kagaba, NGO Forum Secretariat Director in a statement issued in Juba on Friday.
It noted that armed actors continue to pursue each other across the breadth of Upper Nile, leaving communities at the mercy of these groups.
It disclosed that past experiences, as told by residents at the PoC, indicate that their safety in the hands of UNMISS continues to be assured, especially during the time of armed violence–regardless of who is involved.
“In light of any near future proposals to position state actors to take over the responsibility of managing displaced populations, especially in Malakal, it is only right at this point for the extension of the UNMISS mandate to allow for engagement of all actors to reconcile efforts in management capacities, redesign of the current site and ensuring respect to diversity and continuity of life,” said Kagaba.
Kagaba said that plans to transition the PoC into an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp should be put on hold until communities whose populations are now seeking protection are safe for return.
“When the other POCs transitioned into IDP camps two years ago, UNMISS recognized that the complexity of conflict made it unviable to transition the camp as per the principles establishing them. Since then observations of the severity of armed conflict has increased since November 2022 to January 2023,” she said.
Kagaba said that it is only fair to the communities seeking protection from the blue helmets, that the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) be made in earnest.
As of February, the number of people seeking shelter and protection at the Malakal PoC stands at over 41000