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.
In South Sudan, still reeling from civil war, consecutive years of record flooding have pushed hundreds of thousands out of their homes, intensifying competition for resources and contributing to deadly conflict. Donors and aid groups should work with South Sudanese partners to better meet the needs of all.
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.
The situation is horrendous in South Sudan, and it seems to keep getting worse despite the peace deal.
This week on The Horn, Alan is joined by Edmund Yakani, a leading South Sudanese civil society activist and executive director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, to discuss the state of South Sudan’s peace process and the prospects for elections next year.
This week on The Horn, guest host Nicolas Delaunay is joined by Nazanine Moshiri, Crisis Group’s climate & security expert, to discuss the complex, often dangerous relationship between climate stresses and conflict in the Horn and on the continent more broadly.
Side deals between President Salva Kiir and renegade opposition leaders jeopardise the 2018 agreement that ended the worst fighting of South Sudan’s civil war. East African mediators should press the principal combatants – Kiir and Riek Machar – to restart talks on the issues that divide them.
Originally published in The African Report.
Upon South Sudan’s independence in 2011, many hoped the country’s oil wealth would help build the state and lift citizens out of poverty. Instead, politicians have shunted these revenues toward patronage and personal enrichment, feeding internal conflict. Transparency and accountability are badly needed.
This week on The Horn, Alan Boswell welcomes Dr. Luka Biong Deng Kuol, a South Sudanese former minister and academic, to reflect on South Sudan’s trajectory since achieving independence ten years ago and whether it can still change course toward a more stable future.
The world's youngest country needs an overhaul, Crisis Group Interim Vice President and Africa Program Director Comfort Ero and South Sudan Senior Analyst Alan Boswell write in Foreign Affairs.
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