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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

While main signatories of 2018 peace deal reached new agreement on unified armed forces command, deadly fighting displaced thousands in north. Following late-March spike in tensions between President Kiir and his long-time rival, VP Riek Machar, leaders 3 April agreed to implement key provision of 2018 peace agreement and form unified armed forces command; under Sudanese-brokered security deal, Kiir’s forces got 60% of key leadership posts in national security institutions, while Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) took remaining 40%. Following deal, Machar immediately announced he would lift weeks-long suspension of participation in security and ceasefire mechanisms that underpinned 2018 peace deal. Kiir 12 April ordered military officers loyal to Machar be officially integrated into unified army command. Violent clashes 8 April erupted between Machar’s SPLM/A-IO and forces allied to govt in Leer county of Unity state; local authorities 11 April reported around 14,000 people displaced and at least 35 killed, including SPLM/A-IO senior leader James Gatjung Dok, in several days of fighting. In Upper Nile state, govt forces and SPLM/A-IO troops mid-April accused each other of attacks in Maban county. Ethnic Misseriya militiamen from Sudan 13 April attacked three villages in disputed Abyei Administrative Area, reportedly killing over 40 people. Violence also continued in Jonglei and Lakes states. Notably, cattle-related violence 16 April reportedly killed four people in Jonglei’s Nyirol county. Lakes state authorities said four people killed and five wounded 1 April in Rumbek East county when youth from Unity state carried out cattle raids. Intercommunal clashes 8-12 April reportedly killed at least eight people in Eastern Equatoria state and neighbouring Greater Pibor Administrative Area (south east). UN Food and Agriculture Organization Representative in South Sudan Meshack Malo around 12 April said “two-thirds” of country’s population “will likely face hunger between May and July”.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

9 Aug 2021
There is still no sign of a broader reset in South Sudanese politics [...] instead, the divisions just keep mounting. New York Times

Alan Boswell

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa
9 Jul 2021
[South Sudan] is just, unfortunately, in a much worse spot than it was 10 years ago. Whenever I talk with various diplomats from different countries [...] they all fear cutting humanitarian aid to South Sudan would just cause more misery. Both the South Sudanese and the outside world feel a bit stuck at the moment. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa
13 Aug 2020
Disarmament in South Sudan resembles an abusive counterinsurgency operation, not an orderly collection of arms, which the local militias often resist giving up. The New York Times

Alan Boswell

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa
8 May 2020
The disagreement between Kiir and Machar has endangered the gains made toward a lasting peace. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa
20 Feb 2020
"[South Sudan president Kiir and former rebel leader Machar] still have much to work through, but Machar was unlikely to extract more significant concessions before forming the government. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa
16 Feb 2020
[In South Sudan] the dispute over the configuration of states became a major impasse blocking the peace process from moving towards a unity government. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa

Latest Updates

Podcast / Africa

Does a Better Decade Lie Ahead for South Sudan?

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.

Op-Ed / Africa

South Sudan's Dismal Tenth Birthday

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.

Originally published in Foreign Affairs

Podcast / Africa

Ten Years of South Sudanese Statehood

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Alan Boswell, senior analyst for South Sudan, for an in-depth look at South Sudanese statehood ten years after independence.

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Alan Boswell

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa
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