NRC (2010). Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Displacement and Reintegtation in post Referendum Southern Sudan
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The Government of National Unity (GoNU) of Sudan and the Governme nt of Southern Sudan (GoSS) are entering the final stages of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with the up-coming Southern Sudan referendum on 9 th January 2011. Southern Sudanese will vote to decide whether to stay unit ed with the rest of Sudan or secede. Much of the focus has been on whether the technicalities of the referendum are in place and resolution of the high level political issues, namely: demarcation of the borders between the northern and southern states, agr eements over natural resource sharing (including oil, water, pastoral land and migratory routes), citize nship, the application of international treaties and the allocation of the debt burden. Speculation is rife as to whether the referendum will occur on ti me, if secession will be chosen and if it is, whether the result will be respected by the GoNU. And whilst the high level political concerns are of fundamental importance, more attention is urgent ly required regarding the implications for the civilian population. There will likely be significant population movement regardless of the result of the referendum. Violent reactions and large-scale displacement may occur if secession is chosen, denied, or appears to have been illegitimately denied. The current 2011 planning figures estimate movements of returnees, internally displaced and refugees in the hundreds of thousands to millions, with 50,000 Southerners already moving south since October 2010. And despite six years of recovery and reconstruction efforts by the GoSS and its partners, the capacity of Southern Sudan to support the reintegration of mass population movements is very limited. Chronic poverty, the high vulnerabilit ies of most Southerners and limited infrastructure and basic service provision following one of Africa’s longest civil wars, mean that local populations have little capacity to cope with minor shocks. Violence and natural disasters, or mass displacement can (and do) easily tip communities from survival to crisis. The potential humanitarian impact could dramatically worsen an already precarious situation.