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

Calls to postpone elections rose, intercommunal violence escalated in Warrap state and Abyei administrative area, as well as Jonglei state, and Sudan’s war drew closer to South Sudan. 

Calls to delay 2024 elections rose amid lack of preparedness. More voices called for extension of transitional govt’s mandate due to inadequate time to organise credible elections. Notably, South Sudan Opposition Alliance MP David De Dau 2 Jan proposed five-year extension. During meeting with UN envoy Nicholas Haysom, opposition leader Riek Machar 11 Jan maintained that his party Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) will participate in polls only if key prerequisites, including census, constitution and unification of forces, are in place. 

President Kiir expelled Nuer leader as violence escalated in Abyei. Fighting between Twik Dinka from Warrap state and Ngok Dinka from disputed Abyei region continued to escalate. President Kiir 10-11 Jan met local officials amid mounting pressure, 16 Jan ordered expulsion of Nuer spiritual leader Gai Maciek from Warrap for aggravating violence; Maciek refused to leave, 18 Jan attacked cattle camp in Mayom county, killing fifteen and stealing 800 cattle. Twic youth and Maciek’s forces 27-28 Jan carried out attacks in Abyei, killing over 50, including two UN peacekeepers. 

Jonglei saw stepped-up intercommunal violence; army and opposition clashed in Unity. In breach of Jonglei State’s 2021 peace agreement, armed Murle youth from Greater Pibor Administrative Area 4 Jan attacked Dinka cattle camp in Duk county, killing 24 Dinka and stealing 7,000 cattle; gunmen 15 Jan killed Duk county chief in Poktap town. With Dinka mobilising for possible revenge attack, peace dialogue among Murle, Dinka and Nuer communities is at risk. Meanwhile, army-SPLA-IO skirmishes in Unity State 29 Jan injured at least two.

Alleged alliance between rebel general and Sudan’s paramilitary raised concern. Advances by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) brought war closer to border with South Sudan (see Sudan). Unity State commander William Manyang Mayak 10 Jan claimed rebel general Stephen Buay and hundreds of Nuer fighters had allied with RSF and were planning attacks on oilfields, prompting army to deploy along border; Buay 30 Jan denied claims. 

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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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