14 February 2014

Political and ethnic conflict in the world’s youngest nation has led UNHCR to call for a suspension of forcible returns to South Sudan until the security situation has improved. In a position note dated 11 February 2014, UNHCR also advises that many fleeing South Sudan are likely to qualify for refugee status.

According to statistics of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of 6 February 2014, an estimated 738,000 people have been internally displaced by the conflict since 15 December 2013. 130,400 refugees from South Sudan have fled to neighbouring countries, in particular Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

UNHCR reports that thousands of civilians have been killed as a result of the conflict, and hundreds of thousands have lost their livelihoods and access to basic services.

Qualifying the recommendation of international protection for people fleeing South Sudan, UNHCR notes that some individuals may be excluded on account of having committed acts so grave as to render them undeserving of refugee status. Such acts are defined in Article 1F of the Refugee Convention, and include war crimes, serious non-political crimes, and acts ‘contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 21 February 2014
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