South Sudan’s First Migration Policy Takes Another Step Forward

Deputy Minister of Interior, Brig. Gen Hon Riaw Gatlier Gai Choul addressing the participants during the validation workshop in Juba.

Juba – The Republic of South Sudan, also Africa’s newest state, is working to finalize a migration policy that its hopes will enhance the country’s capacity to manage its borders while also protecting the rights of migrants. 

The Government has been collaborating with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to develop the country’s first ever such policy with funding from the Government of Japan, the European Union (EU) and Germany. 

In 2017, South Sudan was believed to be hosting some 845,000 migrants, the majority were from the East and Horn of Africa, according to the United Nations International Migration Report

Not only is South Sudan a country of destination for many migrants, it also is a transit country on the route to North Africa. Migrants’ movements in South Sudan are mixed – both in terms of root causes and duration – and include refugees, migrant workers with or without families, as well as unaccompanied migrant children and victims of trafficking. A number of those migrants travelling to, or through, the country enlists the services of smugglers to facilitate their journeys.  

A draft of the new migration policy was presented by IOM-supported consultants to a stake-holders panel comprised of state and non-state actors during a two-day workshop that took place from 20 to 21 February in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, where it was endorsed. 

The process of developing a comprehensive migration policy began in October 2018 when IOM held a consultative workshop where key stake-holders led by the Government set priorities to be addressed by the policy. In the months that followed, consultants with global expertise in developing migration policies set about working on the draft while in continuous contact with IOM and the National Coordination Mechanism (NCM). The latter is a Governmental interagency committee set up to coordinate migration issues.  

In his opening remarks during the validation workshop, the Deputy Minister for Interior, Brig. Gen. Riaw Chuol said, “The Government is committed to adopting this policy as it guides South Sudan in creating a conducive environment for foreign investments and ensuring migrants adhere to the laws of the country for their protection.” 

Once the document is finalized, it will be submitted to the Minister of Interior for presentation to the Council of Ministers for deliberation and endorsement. Afterwards, the next step would be for it to go through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs before submission to Parliament for final adoption.  

IOM’s support in drafting the proposed migration policy was made possible through funding from the EU Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) within the Better Migration Management Programme (BMM) as well as through funding from the Government of Japan. BMM is a regional, multi-year and multi-partner programme to improve migration management in the Horn of Africa. 

IOM is one of the main implementing partners alongside UNODC, GIZ, Expertise France, Italian Department of Public Security, CIVIPOL, and the British Council. BMM also covers Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda. In South Sudan, as in other countries, all BMM activities are implemented in close coordination with the EU Delegation. 

Also speaking from the validation workshop, the Japanese ambassador to South Sudan, H.E Seiji Okada, said: “It is time for South Sudan to focus on promoting private sector investment by foreign companies as drivers of economic change through creating an enabling environment. It is envisaged that the migration policy will guide the government in creating the necessary frameworks for this environment.”   

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon in Juba, Tel: +211912379843, Email: