South Sudan

Since fighting erupted in Juba in July 2016 and a major rebel faction returned to war, rebel groups have proliferated though conflict is much reduced from its height in 2014. The government’s current strategy can secure Juba but cannot deliver sustainable nationwide peace. Of the millions experiencing hunger due to the conflict’s impact on civilians, the UN declared 100,000 in famine conditions for several months in 2017. Through field-based research and engagement with relevant national, regional and international actors, Crisis Group aims to support humanitarian access and build a new consensus around sustainable peace efforts that address the regionalised nature of the conflict as well as its localised dynamics.

CrisisWatch South Sudan

Unchanged Situation

Militia forces integrated into army, and intercommunal tensions escalated amid displacement crisis from Sudan where conflict threatens oil exports.

Agwalek militia integrated into army and defections weakened opposition. President Kiir and leader of ethnic Shilluk Agwalek militia, Johnson Olony, 7 June held long-awaited meeting in capital Juba, agreed to officially integrate Agwalek combatants into national armed forces. Leaders of two largest rebel groups not to have signed revitalised peace agreement – South Sudan United Front/Army deputy chief of staff, Dickson Gatluak, 11 June and National Salvation Front’s commander, Kenyi Warrior, 18 June – defected to govt, which could disincentivise Juba from reconvening Rome talks with armed groups outside of 2018 deal.

Sudan conflict enflamed intercommunal violence and threatened vital oil pipeline. UN refugee agency 26 June reported around 117,000 had crossed border from Sudan, mostly returnees, since 15 April. Humanitarian organisations continued to relocate thousands to areas of origin and areas adjacent to existing Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp in Malakal city (Upper Nile state), where intercommunal tensions have been high for months due to fighting between Nuer and Shilluk Agwalek ethnic militia. Empowered by President Kiir’s recognition of Olony, armed Shilluk 8 June clashed with Nuer groups in PoC camp, killing over 20, injuring dozens and raising doubts about UN mission’s (UNMISS) ability to protect camp. Meanwhile, Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces mid-June reportedly threatened to blow up only oil pipeline through Sudan if South Sudan does not stop paying transit fees to Sudanese army; move would prevent South Sudan’s oil export through Port Sudan, with catastrophic economic consequences.

Violence persisted in several states. Clashes during cattle raid between Nuer youth of Panyijiar County and Dinka youth of Rumbek Central County 1 June killed eight in Lakes State. Local official said youth from Unity State 3 June killed 19 in cattle-related attack in Tonj North county, Warrap State. Misseriya tribesmen from Sudan’s Kordofan states 10-15 June killed ten in Warn Ayen area of Aweil East County in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state. UNMISS 16 June revealed number of violent incidents targeting civilians Jan-March 2023 grew by 12% compared to same time period in 2022.

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In The News

3 Feb 2023
The situation is horrendous in South Sudan, and it seems to keep getting worse despite the peace deal. Washington Post

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa

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Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
Alan Boswell

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