Southern Sudan: Demolition of shelters leads to humanitarian crisis in Juba
28 May 2009

Jebel Kujur Hill sits on the outskirts of Juba near communites made up of tukuls and tin shacks. (Sophie Vodvarka/JRS)
By the end of May, the total number of people rendered homeless by this demolition was estimated at 30,000 according to the Southern Sudan Rehabilitation and Relief Commission (SSRRC).
Juba, 28 May 2009 In early January 2009, the Governor of the Central Equatoria State, Mr Clement Wani, ordered the demolition of structures which "illegally" occupied land within Juba and its suburbs. This was part of the demarcation and mapping process of Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, which started in 2008 per directive by President Salva Kiir as an attempt to modernise the city. The target of the demolition are internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps, slums and un-demarcated areas which include permanent or semi-permanent structures that have been erected without a permit.

By the end of May, the total number of people rendered homeless by this demolition was estimated at 30,000 according to the Southern Sudan Rehabilitation and Relief Commission (SSRRC). This is causing a public outcry as there has not been any alternative land or any compensation given to those made homeless. According to a recent IRIN report, some of the affected people even said that they were not informed but only learnt about the process on the radio. The report also mentioned that the onset of the rainy season is approaching, making the situation more dramatic because people who are left without shelter have nowhere to go. The most vulnerable among the homeless suffer most and their needs are not being catered for.

Keeping humanitarian concerns in mind

In a recent press release, Mr. Wani said the demolition not only aims at improving the city's look but is also meant to install law and order in Central Equatoria. Although the aim may be genuine, the method which is used to achieve it is causing a humanitarian crisis. In February this year, several agencies – JRS not forming part of them - formed a taskforce to find alternative solutions for the IDPs affected by the demolition. In their recommendation, they suggested to start advocating on behalf of the IDPs both with the government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and the Central Equatoria State authorities. Following this recommendation the UN which is also part of the taskforce took the matter at hand and issued a statement last month urging the GoSS to uphold human rights and compensate the victims of demolition as well as provide alternative land.

In early May, a UN demolition taskforce was formed in order to collect information about the demolition as well as about the legal protection and humanitarian impact of the demolition and to make recommendations. The outcome of this investigation is yet to be announced.

The UN (UNMIS) has called for the provision of alternative land to the homeless, adequate housing, access to basic services and compensation to the large numbers of families who have been uprooted from their homes.







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