IRI Survey of South Sudanese IDPs and Refugees Shows Support for Peace Process, Concern Views Will Not be Represented

December 12, 2014

Juba, South Sudan – According to a new survey research project released today by IRI, more than half of South Sudanese refugees interviewed in Kenya and Uganda and internally displaced persons (IDP) in South Sudan believe a transitional government is the solution to the current crisis in South Sudan, which began in December 2013 when the world’s youngest country descended into civil war. 

When asked what they would need to see before they would be willing to return home, the plurality of respondents said peace. The second largest group said security.

South Sudanese Show Limited Confidence in Peace and Reconciliation Process

While 48 percent of respondents said they are aware of the ongoing peace and reconciliation process taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, less than half of that group, 44 percent, believe the process will reflect their views.  Forty-two percent do not believe their views will be represented.  Twenty-nine percent believe South Sudanese citizens are the most important group to participate in the process, and 27 percent believe the international community is the most important group to participate in the process. 

“The survey shows the clear importance of incorporating the views of all South Sudanese citizens in the peace and reconciliation process and any transitional government moving forward,” noted Ambassador Mark Green, president of IRI.  “IRI would welcome the chance to help ensure that the voices of South Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons are heard in this vital process.” 

Previously, through an IRI-sponsored dialogue series, IRI assisted South Sudanese political parties and youth to gather input for the ongoing peace process in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Green added, “On this one year anniversary of the crisis in South Sudan, we call on all parties in South Sudan to commit to bringing real and lasting peace to their country.”

Other groups that respondents consider important to the negotiations are the government of South Sudan, political parties and the ‘warring factions.’  Respondents clearly want to see an inclusive process.  A strong plurality, 44 percent, believes women should have a ‘peacemaking’ role in the reconciliation process and transitional government.

Support for a Transitional Government, with Unity a Key Issue

More than half of respondents, 53 percent, believe a transitional government in South Sudan is the solution to the current crisis.  A quarter of respondents – 27 percent – disagree and believe such a government would bring together groups that do not understand each other or have a hidden agenda.  For those who support a transitional government, the most important issues for it to address include peace, unity and security.

The December 2013 crisis began when tensions between factions loyal to South Sudanese President Salvar Kiir and those aligned with former Vice President Riek Machar descended into violent conflict.  Since then South Sudan has remained in a state of civil warfare and humanitarian crisis.

Not surprisingly, 39 percent of respondents said that peace is the most important issue for the government of South Sudan to address before they will consider returning to their homes.  This was ranked ahead of the provision of security, which was the second priority issue at 15 percent, and the provision of basic needs at 14 percent.  Although, when asked differently, nearly a third – 29 percent – believe the international community should address basic needs, food and health services in order for families to be able to return to their homes.

Little Confidence in Political Parties or Awareness of Constitution

When discussing important democratic institutions such as political parties there was mixed confidence.  More than half of respondents – 55 percent – said that political parties in South Sudan do not represent their needs.  Only one third – 30 percent – believe that political parties do represent their needs with 15 percent who did not know. 

Further, more than half of respondents also said they were not aware of the ongoing permanent constitution process in South Sudan.  Among those aware, when given the opportunity to describe what they want to see in their constitution, respondents clearly defined their priorities as peace, unity, human rights, justice and equity. 

Methodology

The research survey was conducted via face-to-face interviews from July 14-August 4, 2014, in Kenya and Uganda; and, from September 17-22, 2014, and October 31-December 2, 2014, in South Sudan.  The total sample size of randomly selected respondents was 2,505:  1,323 in South Sudan, 303 in Kenya and 879 in Uganda.  The margin of error for the entire study is plus or minus 2.0 percent with higher margins of error in each country (see detailed methodology). 

The survey was conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.