JUBA, South Sudan, September 1, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) wishes to announce the start of a relocation programme for 510 foreign nationals who have been living at one of the UNMISS protection-of-civilians (PoC) sites at UNMISS headquarters along the Yei Road in Juba. The process began on 27 August with the transfer of 97 foreign nationals to Juba Town, and another 16 were transported to Juba Town on Friday, 28 August.
The relocation programme is being conducted by UNMISS in conjunction with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The Mission is also coordinating closely with the national government’s Commission for Refugee Affairs of South Sudan.
The outbreak of the conflict in South Sudan in December 2013 triggered an influx of hundreds of foreign nationals into the PoC sites established by UNMISS in the opening days of the fighting to fulfill its protection-of-civilians mandate. Most of these foreign nationals come from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
With the change in the security situation, there is no need for the foreign nationals to continue to reside in the UNMISS camp. UNMISS has worked with the foreign nationals, relevant UN agencies and national partners to identify other options for their continued stay in South Sudan.
Earlier this year, the Relief, Re-integration and Protection Section of UNMISS alongside IOM and UNHCR engaged with the foreign nationals and encouraged them to seek living options outside the PoC site at UN House that had been assigned to them. Specifically, IOM provided passports to foreign nationals upon request and UNHCR facilitated the provision of asylum-seeking certificates that will enable them to remain legally in South Sudan while their individual applications for refugee status are reviewed.
Some foreign nationals opted to seek formal refugee status in South Sudan, and their applications will be subject to a Refugee Status Determination process.
The 510 foreign nationals who registered for the relocation programme were given three options from which to choose: a move to Juba Town; a transfer to the Western Equatoria State capital of Yambio; or a move to the UNHCR-administered Makpandu refugee settlement in Yambio. To date, 264 of them have made their selections, and 104 have voluntarily signed up for relocation to Yambio, which is expected to commence on Tuesday, 1 September.
UNMISS will continue to fulfill its mandate to protect civilians in imminent threat of physical danger.