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2019 Returnees Scenario Planning Report

- Whilst most areas of South Sudan reported returns movements over the past 12 months, these appeared to only represent a fraction of those that have been displaced since 2013.

- In the Equatorias region, return movements appeared to be primarily partial household returns, cautiously testing the ground, whilst retaining strong family links to refugee settlements in Uganda and Kenya.

- Information for the Greater Bahr-el–Ghazals overall remains rather patchy, but for the Wau PoC AA site, intentions survey findings suggest that a fifth of the remaining population of 15,272 individuals intend to depart in the first quarter of 2019, continuing the population decline in the PoC site observed throughout 2018.

- In Greater Upper Nile, findings suggest that return movements on a larger scale from Sudan to Panyikang/Fangak are primarily driven by difficult living conditions in displacement sites, whilst movements via Renk from Sudan towards the western bank seem to be related to more direct pull factors such as family reunification.

- Overall, whilst return dynamics vary according to locality, across different areas, it is mainly partial households that are observed to be returning in staggered phases. Given urban areas are considered as key transit areas to acquire resources and information and potentially reside in longer term, given their higher service presence and economic opportunities, these could see increased population inflows in 2019.

- Overall, observed trends could be classified as driven by a mix of ‘cautious optimism’ in some areas versus ‘coping strategy’ in other areas, to cope with difficult living conditions in displacement sites, particularly in view of reduced access to assistance. From a needs perspective, the poor humanitarian situation in some key areas of return are of concern, with all counties that reported greater numbers of returns in northern Jonglei, and Upper Nile classified as IPC Phase 4 as of September 2018.

- Conflict sensitivity in both the analysis and response to returns will be a key issue to ensure a “do no harm” approach. Major unmet preconditions to more permanent returns include access to basic services, access to food, and uncertainty in regard to the security outlook and resolution of housing, land and property issues. The potential role of authorities in assisting returns remains an issue that requires further analysis. A better understanding of what pre-conditions South Sudanese communities need to see in place to enable them to return is also needed.

- The factors to watch in 2019 that may impact return movements include progress on the implementation of Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) as well as political developments in neighbouring countries. Furthermore, it will be necessary to observe how seasonal patterns may affect both temporary and longer-term movements of populations. Likewise, disease outbreaks, for instance, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has the potential to change movement patterns: if an outbreak were confirmed in South Sudan, this could act as a barrier to return, but if an outbreak spreads abroad, this could act as a push factor, including in already affected DRC and potentially affected Uganda.

- All factors remaining constant, it is expected that returns would continue to evolve on a cautious path, whereby seemingly more stable locations with access to services could see higher levels of return, whilst any renewed or continuing conflict and communal clashes may trigger further displacements. However, there remain many unknown factors, including the degree to which political actors will push for increased returns, with facilitated returns having the potential to drastically change the scale of flows.

Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
International Organization for Migration
IMPACT Initiatives
World Food Programme
Protection Cluster - South Sudan
Cluster(s)/Sector(s): 
Original Publication Date: 
14 Feb 2019
Document type: 
Analysis Report
Location(s): 
Juba
Theme(s): 
Refugees and Returnees