In December 2013, a civil war broke out in the new nation of South Sudan. As the fighting erupted inthe nation's capital and spread through the country, tens of thousands of civilians fled from conflict affected areas and sought refuge at bases of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). UNMISS opened its gates to those seeking protection and quickly prepared Protection of Civilians (POC) sites within and adjacent to its bases where people could take shelter from the violence. As of August2015 - more than a year after the inception of the conflict - about 200,000 people were estimated to reside in these POC sites, and more are continuing to arrive. Although the mission has undoubtedly saved many lives by accepting these civilians onto its bases, the influx of people onto U.N. premises has presented unique challenges and placed a huge strain on the mission's resources. UNMISS bases were not designed to house and protect such a large number of people over such a long period of time.
This policy brief examines current approaches to establishing safety and security, and outlines the most challenging internal security issues in UNMISS POC sites to inform future guidance. It focuses on the implications of the U.N.'s lack of judicial authority, the problems associated with indefinite detention,the difficulties of weapon confiscation, the organization of community watch groups, and the particular challenge of gender-based violence. In addition, it draws lessons from safety and security in other IDP and refugee settings that may offer insights for confronting similar challenges in POC sites.