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Keeping the Hotline Open Between Sudan and South Sudan
Keeping the Hotline Open Between Sudan and South Sudan
Peacekeeper troops from Ethiopia and deployed in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) patrol outside Abyei town, in Abyei state. ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN / AFP
Commentary / Africa

Keeping the Hotline Open Between Sudan and South Sudan

A UN mission has largely succeeded in keeping the peace in Abyei, an oil-rich area claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. But there has been less progress made on the mission's work in aiding political mechanisms to determine the final status of Abyei and demilitarise and demarcate the border. As the UN Security Council debates the mission's scope, these mechanisms deserve ongoing support.

In 2011, Sudan and South Sudan sought outside help to prevent a return to war along what would become their international border. This effort followed a resurgence of violence in border areas: a new insurgency in South Sudan’s Unity State in April; the Sudanese army’s move into Abyei, an oil-rich area claimed by both countries, in May; and renewed fighting in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile (known as the “Two Areas”) in June. Part of the UN Security Council’s response to their requests for support was its deployment of a peacekeeping mission, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

The pressing need for UNISFA became abundantly clear within a year. In 2012, border clashes escalated until South Sudanese army units struck into Sudanese-controlled territory and destroyed oil production facilities in Heglig, a town close to Abyei. Only the concerted efforts of the Security Council, the African Union, international partners, notably the U.S., and neighbouring countries averted a larger confrontation. A set of Cooperation Agreements concluded in Addis Ababa has largely held and has formed the basis of Sudan-South Sudan bilateral relations since then.

UNISFA’s mandate, in essence, is twofold. First, it keeps the peace and protects civilians in Abyei. Second, its mandate was expanded to support political mechanisms the two sides agreed to, notably one providing for regular meetings between senior Sudanese and South Sudanese officials (the Joint Political and Security Mechanism, or JPSM) and another tasked with monitoring a demilitarised zone along the whole Sudan-South Sudan border (the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, or JBVMM). JPSM delegations are typically led by the respective defence ministers while the JBVMM teams are led by generals working under those ministers. UNISFA peacekeepers are mostly Ethiopians; both parties pre-identified Ethiopia as the primary troop contributor, believing its forces were willing, capable and neutral.

Peacekeepers have deterred armed clashes in Abyei, thus protecting civilians and reducing the risk of flare-ups between Sudan and South Sudan.

UNISFA has largely succeeded in fulfilling the first part of its mandate. For the most part, peacekeepers have deterred armed clashes in Abyei, thus protecting civilians and reducing the risk of flare-ups between Sudan and South Sudan. Indeed, when South Sudan’s civil war led to fighting along the border in 2014, UNISFA’s presence was part of the reason Abyei was the only border area unaffected by armed group activity. The presence of peacekeepers also allows the impoverished Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities – which are often at odds – to operate a joint market and has created conditions for other activities that might enable the area’s socio-economic development.

But the political cooperation mechanisms that UNISFA supports – the JPSM and the JBVMM – have been less successful. Talks on Abyei’s final status – whether the area will be part of Sudan or South Sudan – and border demarcation, both politically sensitive subjects, have been put on the back burner amid more pressing bilateral challenges. Not all of the border is completely demilitarised and both government forces and rebel groups operate along it. The JBVMM has not deployed beyond the Sudanese and South Sudanese capitals of Khartoum and Juba.

Members of the UN Security Council are currently reviewing UNISFA’s mandate. The U.S., in particular, has argued for cutting back its role supporting the JBVMM. The Security Council must decide in the coming days if that support will continue.

The desire to strip back those parts of UNISFA’s work that have seen least success is understandable. But eliminating its support for the JBVMM and, by extension undermining the JPSM which relies on the JBVMM’s infrastructure, would be a mistake. Both play valuable roles. They serve as discrete fora for political and security coordination between Sudan and South Sudan. Reducing UN support for them could curtail critical efforts by the Security Council to promote peace between the two countries and within both. It could also undercut UNISFA’s wider work and leave its peacekeepers exposed.

Meeting benchmarks

Previous Security Council debates over the mission’s mandate, in May and November 2017, were tense. U.S. diplomats pushed to end UNISFA’s support to the JBVMM, arguing that Sudan and South Sudan had not done their part to make the mechanism operational. In the end, Ethiopia – which is on the Security Council through 2018 – and other Council members persuaded the body to maintain that role.   

The Security Council did, however, introduce a set of benchmarks (in Resolution 2386 in November 2017) for the JBVMM to become operational. These included facilitating full freedom of movement for UNISFA; opening border crossing corridors; reactivating the ad hoc committee for the Mile 14 area (which extends fourteen miles south of the Kiir Adem/Bahr el Arab river, abutting Abyei on the west, and which Sudan had bombed on several occasions); operationalising JBVMM sites outside Juba and Khartoum; and convening at least two JPSM meetings to resolve these issues. The resolution also decided that this would be the final extension of UNISFA support to the JBVMM unless these measures were taken. 

The UN Secretary-General’s latest report on Abyei, submitted to the Security Council earlier this month, asserts that Sudan and South Sudan have met these benchmarks. It notes that the JBVMM has made “notable progress as both governments have put considerable effort into implementing their agreements on the border”. Indeed, it identifies more progress in the previous five months on operationalising the JBVMM than had been made in the previous five years.

Most notably, Sudan and South Sudan have resumed discussions on border demarcation, identified border crossings to be opened in Phase I of the JBVMM’s deployment and reactivated the ad hoc committee for Mile 14. Progress on border crossings is crucial to support the movement of people and trade along the border, including the import of desperately needed food into South Sudan. The parties also have held JPSM meetings.

Beyond the border crossings referred to in the mandate, progress also has been made on humanitarian access. Three “humanitarian corridors” have been opened to allow the World Food Program to bring aid from Sudan into South Sudan.

Security Council members, including the U.S. and UK, argue that these steps are positive but minimal and that meaningful progress is likely to be slow. This is true enough. But the small forward steps along the border should be seen in the context of wider improving relations between the two countries, especially given the dismal state of those relations six years ago.

Cross-border support to rebels has ceased – a far cry from when Juba backed Sudanese rebel groups and Khartoum backed the South Sudanese armed opposition.

Most significantly, cross-border support to rebels has ceased – a far cry from when Juba backed Sudanese rebel groups and Khartoum backed the South Sudanese armed opposition. The two sides also have made progress on oil agreements: South Sudan has compromised on its original insistence that no Sudanese should be involved in oil production in South Sudan and allowed Sudanese technicians back in return for Sudanese support in the Unity fields. The two sides agreed to share security responsibility for those fields, addressing oil companies’ prerequisite to return and restart production.

The presence of UNISFA and the reasonably peaceful situation in Abyei contributed to this result. The relative stability along the border has provided breathing room for both to tackle other outstanding issues that, if left unresolved, could also trigger conflict between the two states.

Risks in cutting support to the JBVMM

Discussions on UNISFA also should factor in potential consequences of changing the mandate.

First, cutting UNISFA’s support for the JBVMM and, by extension, undermining the JPSM, would endanger the direct and discreet communications channel both mechanisms offer when inflammatory incidents inevitably occur between the two countries. Behind the scenes and with strong U.S. support, the JPSM and the bilateral connections it facilitated were used at the height of South Sudan’s civil war to ensure proxy conflict on the borders did not spread.

Without the funding for the JBVMM that comes through UNISFA, it is unlikely that the mechanism would function as it currently does and the diminished support could undermine the working-level operations that feed into the JPSM. While the parties would continue bilateral meetings, they would likely be less transparent and more disconnected from other aspects of the 2012 Cooperation Agreements or peacekeeping in Abyei.

Khartoum and Juba resist UN involvement in their internal and bilateral affairs, but they trust the Security Council’s approach on UNISFA.

Second, a mission focused narrowly on Abyei – in other words, without the JBVMM’s wider border monitoring role – would limit the UN’s ability to engage in wider Sudan-South Sudan relations. Were that support withdrawn, it would find it more difficult to mediate in the future were Sudan and South Sudan relations to again deteriorate, given both Sudan and South Sudan’s tetchy relationships with the UN.

Both Khartoum and Juba resist UN involvement in their internal and bilateral affairs, but they trust the Security Council’s approach on UNISFA and, for now, are comfortable with Ethiopia’s role as the mission’s “face”. The parties’ consent to UNISFA’s role in their bilateral affairs would not automatically transfer to other UN bodies.

Third, closing all support for the JBVMM, and potentially winding down the infrastructure that has been set up, would curtail any future opportunity to monitor the border.

Fourth, it could leave Ethiopian peacekeepers in a more difficult position. To be effective, they require the support of both Sudan and South Sudan. Narrowing their mission, particularly by delinking it from the political processes, could undercut that support, in turn undermining the mission’s ability to maintain peace in Abyei.

UNISFA represents a balance between, on the one hand, monitoring and conflict prevention through on-the-ground peacekeepers – which often strains relationships between host governments and the UN – and, on the other, support for dialogue via accepted interlocutors, which the parties desire and which contributes to their acceptance of peacekeeping forces.

Upsetting this carefully negotiated balance could leave Ethiopian forces more exposed. In a worst case scenario, Ethiopia might withdraw from the mission or adopt a less proactive posture toward parties on the ground.

Last, the JBVMM office in Juba plays other constructive roles. It provides humanitarian flight security clearances in South Sudan, thanks to professional staff and reliable electricity and internet (most other offices face frequent blackouts). This avoids delays and saves humanitarian workers from making risky trips to obtain such clearances from the South Sudanese security forces’ headquarters.

Halting support to that office would likely mean changes to humanitarian flight approval procedures and the officials responsible. Given the animosity Juba feels toward parts of the international community, particularly over sanctions, it could exploit the need for changed procedures to complicate and further politicise humanitarian clearances, with potentially deleterious effects upon the millions of South Sudanese who rely on humanitarian support. This is particularly crucial given the very real risk of famine between May and July and the need for uninterrupted aid delivery to prevent it.

In normal circumstances, the UN and other humanitarian actors should be able to find an alternative mechanism; fulfilling this role in itself would not be enough of a reason to maintain UNISFA’s support for the JBVMM. But, added to the risks listed above, it might weigh on Security Council members’ considerations.

Updated benchmarks

The Security Council should always seek ways to make peace operations more effective; this applies to UNISFA as much as to other missions. Overall, though, the Abyei mission has been a success.

Ideally its support for the JBVMM should continue and its core mandate remain unchanged beyond the next renewal in May. It should continue to prevent violence and protect civilians in Abyei, while supporting the JPSM and JBVMM and using the leverage that support provides to urge progress between Khartoum and Juba.

The Security Council should consider updating the benchmarks in Resolution 2386. This would mean pushing for further meetings of the JPSM, further discussions on border demarcation (particularly in areas where the border is relatively uncontested), increased freedom of movement for UNISFA and a renewed focus on border crossings.

Outstanding issues related to South Sudan’s independence, such as border demarcation and Abyei’s final status, are deeply contentious and unlikely to be achieved in the near term, even with outside pressure. UNISFA’s continued presence nonetheless can help the two countries maintain their slowly improving relations, by providing bilateral forums to mitigate potential conflict and prevent backsliding, in addition to stabilising Abyei and improving the lives of civilians living there.

Contributors

Senior Analyst, UN Advocacy and Research
ashishspradhan?lang=en
Former Senior Analyst
Women and children wait to be registered prior to a food distribution carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Thonyor, Leer state, South Sudan, February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
Briefing 124 / Africa

Instruments of Pain (II): Conflict and Famine in South Sudan

War in South Sudan led the UN to declare 100,000 people are suffering famine, with a further 5.5 million at risk. This special briefing urges the country to work harder to establish parameters for a ceasefire. At the same time, humanitarian corridors from Sudan should be kept open and donors must fully fund the UN aid appeal.

I. Overview

As South Sudan’s conflicts, which began in December 2013, have fragmented and expanded, the hunger crisis has deepened and widened. Over 40 per cent of the population is severely food insecure, 60 per cent higher than at this time last year. On 20 February, the UN declared that some 100,000 people are already living in famine conditions in Leer and Mayendit counties. But some 5.5 million are at risk unless urgent measures are taken to reduce conflict and enable humanitarians to deliver more aid safely.

Conflict among various factions has prompted massive displacement that in turn has prevented farming, while looting and cattle rustling have destroyed many people’s assets. Some 1.9 million civilians are internally displaced persons (IDPs), 224,000 of whom have fled to UN peacekeeping bases. Another 1.6 million have found refuge in neighbouring countries. Currency depreciation, hyperinflation and insecurity have led to declining trade and soaring food prices.

Addressing the humanitarian crisis is hugely expensive. In its 2017 appeal, the UN requested $1.6 billion; so far, only $439 million has been pledged. Helping starving people also is perilous; 82 humanitarian workers have been killed. In the absence of bolder policy decisions to reduce fighting, humanitarian actors will remain at the forefront of the myriad internal conflicts and, with their lives at risks and budgets under pressure, be able to do less as needs continue to grow.

To mitigate the worst effects of the conflicts, the peace process oversight body – the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) – and its partners need to support ceasefire implementation, as well as local dialogue and negotiations between the government and warring factions. To prevent famine in the meantime, however, the humanitarian appeal needs to be fully funded. To ensure that the aid reaches those most in need, all actors should avoid politicising it. Finally, the two existing and third needed humanitarian corridors through Sudan must be kept consistently open.[fn]The UN has issued a warning of impending famine in four nations: Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and parts of Nigeria. “USG/ERC Stephen O’Brien Statement to the Security Council on Missions to Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya and an Update on the Oslo Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region”, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 10 March 2017. This briefing is the second of a series Crisis Group is issuing on the four situations. Crisis Group Statement, “Instruments of Pain: Conflict and Famine”, 13 April 2017; Crisis Group Middle East Briefing N°52, Instruments of Pain (I): Conflict and Famine in Yemen, 13 April 2017.Hide Footnote

II. Civil War in South Sudan

The origins and dynamics of the conflicts that are occurring across South Sudan differ dramatically.[fn]Crisis Group has produced an extensive body of work on conflict within South Sudan and Sudan, on relations between Khartoum and Juba and on overall regional dynamics. Major reports include: Crisis Group Africa Reports N°s 243, South Sudan: Rearranging the Chessboard, 20 December 2016; 236, eSouth Sudan’s South: Conflict in the Equatorias, 25 May 2016; 228, South Sudan: Keeping Faith with the IGAD Peace Process, 27 July 2015; 223, merSudan and South Sudan’s Merging Conflicts, 29 January 2015; 217, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, 10 April 2014; 204, Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (II): War in Blue Nile, 18 June 2013; 198, Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (I): War in South Kordofan, 14 February 2013; 172, nePolitics and Transition in the New South Sudan, 4 April 2011; 159, Sudan: Regional Perspectives on the Prospects of Southern Independence, 6 May 2010; and Crisis Group Africa Briefing N°76, Negotiating Sudan’s North-South Future, 23 November 2010. Our first report discussing the use of food as a weapon in South Sudan was Africa Report N°39, God, Oil and Country: Changing the Logic of War in Sudan, January 2002, pp. 147-149.Hide Footnote At the war’s outset, there were two main warring parties: the government and its allies on the one hand, and on the other, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and affiliated groups. Despite the signing in August 2015 of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), the disputes continue to evolve, with opposition groups simultaneously factionalising and localising. The government has offered amnesty to some armed groups, while maintaining military pressure on others. Though external policymakers have struggled to respond to these nuances, international political inertia prevails.

Fortunately, relatively few locations have experienced sustained warfare, as military dynamics tend to suspend fighting for months or years at a time. This means most IDPs and other civilians are in relatively stable camps or other refuges, and humanitarian actors can provide basic services. However, many of the worst humanitarian situations occur in areas with ongoing conflict, where civilians are often deliberately targeted, thus creating the conditions for famine. Warring parties tend to view civilians as integral elements of their enemy’s economic, political and social support system. This is particularly evident during incidents of revenge violence, when civilians are likely to be treated not as distinct and protected but as part of an armed group. Following government combat operations or ambushes against government vehicles, it is common for soldiers to turn on local civilians. Rebels have also attacked civilians belonging to different ethnic communities.

The proliferation and fracturing of rebel groups give many of these conflicts increasingly local characteristics. The government’s strategy is to militarily pressure the disparate groups into political accommodation. Its own experience, during the two-decade liberation struggle with the government in Khartoum, leads it to believe that attrition will eventually create conditions for a political resolution. It is prepared to play a long game with what is seen as a predictable conflict trajectory, though one with an uncertain timeline.

As opposition groups fracture and multiply, there is often no higher rebel authority than the commander on the ground. The government’s co-option of some former rebel leaders often divides communities, leading to a yet more chaotic situation, as in the ongoing conflict in Mayendit, one of the counties now experiencing famine.

III. The Man-made Crisis in Southern Leich State

Civilians in Leer, Mayendit and Koch counties in Southern Leich State (the former Unity state) have experienced extensive depredations since the civil war began. At its outset, the trigger to the humanitarian crisis was mistreatment by the armies of both sides, as well as their respective allies. Over the past year or so, the number of warring factions has multiplied, as the government has sought to peel off factions from the rebel coalition. The result is a host of armed groups, most nominally aligned with either the government army (the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army, SPLA) or an SPLA-In Opposition faction.[fn]Some SPLA-IO members joined current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, while others remain loyal to former First Vice President Riek Machar; there also are multiple locally-oriented armed youth groups with fluid allegiances.Hide Footnote In the absence of tactical command and control, pillage and raiding is common, devastating communities and further complicating the search for local political solutions. Armed groups repeatedly attack civilians, leaving them without productive assets; towns are not safe; and food markets are devastated. The insecurity constrains aid groups’ ability to sustain operations.

The gender dynamics of violence confront families and communities with impossible choices for feeding themselves and their children, over 30 per cent of whom in these counties are severely malnourished. Men face considerable risk from armed groups if they travel to seek food, as they are often shot if they encounter opposing forces. This has forced women to take enormous risks for their families. When they encounter opposing forces, they are often subject to horrific sexual violence, but their chances of survival are higher. Women were raped by fighters from several different armed groups – including fighters belonging to factions they supported – as they fled fighting in Southern Unity en route to safety at the UN base in Bentiu.[fn]Crisis Group interviews, South Sudanese civilians, Bentiu and Juba, 2014-2016.Hide Footnote Violence in Southern Leich state has pushed many far into the southern swamps along the Nile River, where food is unavailable and leaving to seek it is to risk attack.

IV. War-exacerbated Drought and Economic Challenges

Beyond Southern Leich, even peaceful areas such as the Aweil region on the Sudanese border in the north are at risk of famine. This is the outcome not only of drought (in both South Sudan and neighbouring countries) and other climatic challenges, but also of fighting elsewhere in the country. South Sudan’s economy deteriorated dramatically in 2016, as the government struggled to respond to the global drop in oil prices and borrowed heavily to fight the war.[fn]The price of oil dropped from $97.80 per barrel in fiscal year 2013-2014 to a projected $41.40 in 2016-2017. At the same time, production plummeted from 66.8 million barrels to 43.4 million barrels per year. External debt rose from an estimated 4.2 per cent to 38.7 per cent of GDP. “IMF Executive Board Concludes 2016 Article IV Consultation with the Republic of South Sudan”, 23 March 2017.Hide Footnote This triggered hyperinflation, even as spreading conflicts in places such as the formerly peaceful Equatorias contributed to 2017’s 40 per cent national decline in food production from the same February-April period in the previous year.[fn]Ibid.Hide Footnote More broadly, insecurity has increased costs for both traders and humanitarian actors. Poor people already living on the edge now face low food production due to erratic rainfall and far higher prices for what food there is in the markets.

After extensive negotiations with Khartoum, aid agencies opened two of three proposed humanitarian corridors through Sudan in an attempt to increase available imported food and reduce the cost of moving food aid to South Sudanese border areas.[fn]Negotiations were challenging because of the long history of conflict between Sudan and South Sudan and Sudan’s sensitivities over humanitarian activities.Hide Footnote Sudan’s cooperation is a tangible, welcome outcome of its ongoing negotiations with the U.S. over sanctions relief. A priority now is to open a third corridor, to carry food into Aweil.

V. Humanitarian Access

The warring parties at times have sought to use humanitarian assistance as leverage over civilian populations by pressuring aid agencies to provide food for civilians in areas they control.[fn]For more on how armed groups have used non-governmental organisations for their own ends in South Sudan, see Zachariah Cherian Mampilly, Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life During War (Ithaca, 2011), pp. 129-166.Hide Footnote At others, they have refused to halt fighting to enable access to those populations. Many combatants believe aid inevitably will support not only civilians, but also the opposing side’s fighting forces. Accordingly, both government and opposition groups have presented aid agencies with bureaucratic impediments. Still, South Sudan is one of the only conflict countries where humanitarian organisations are able to negotiate access directly and mostly successfully.[fn]In some other countries, warring groups are unwilling to grant aid agencies direct access to civilians or deliberately bar them from certain areas; in yet other countries facing severe humanitarian crisis, donors prohibit negotiations with terrorist groups.Hide Footnote

 It is not easy. In addition to the government, the negotiations must involve neighbouring countries and dozens of rebel leaders. Yet, in part thanks to joint pressure from neighbours – Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda – as well as from the U.S., China, the African Union (AU) and UN, all warring parties endorse the principle of impartial humanitarian access.

This further illustrates that the primary access constraint, as well as cause of the famine, is the conflict. Where active fighting takes place, humanitarian workers face looting and harassment. They must frequently evacuate staff who do not receive the special protection from warring groups to which they are entitled and which they negotiate with the government and rebel leaders. Sometimes they are directly prohibited access to locations during and immediately after fighting. As a result, assistance can be inadequate or delayed. Some civilians fleeing constant violence are unable to remain in one place long enough to receive sustained assistance.

There are other challenges as well. Food cannot be pre-positioned in conflict areas lest it be stolen. Humanitarian groups are the only international contacts some rebels have. In a handful of cases, humanitarian workers have brokered unpublicised local ceasefires in order to deliver aid. Negotiations take time and money, but more costly options can usually guarantee aid workers’ security. In some cases credible security guarantees cannot be made to enable access across front lines, for example, so expensive airdrops are necessary. At a time of shrinking budgets, however, trade-offs directly impact how many people will receive assistance. It is thus imperative that the UN’s humanitarian appeal be fully funded.

VI. International Political Paralysis

Following the bitter July 2016 fighting in Juba, international actors struggled to influence internal peace and conflict dynamics. While the overall policy is to support the government, there has been little tangible engagement other than with the international institutions related to the 2015 peace agreement. Most donor funding goes to international peace and ceasefire monitoring bodies which have relatively little impact, while that for South Sudanese institutions, such as the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission, is almost non-existent. There are no simple solutions in South Sudan, and moves toward genuine peace require compromises both among South Sudanese and between international actors and the government. Given the multiplicity of factions, peace is more likely to be a local affair, in which progress in some areas may occur at the same time as stagnation in others. There is little appetite beyond South Sudan’s immediate neighbours to support local dialogue, however, whether to promote peace, reconciliation or humanitarian access.

Recent statements from President Salva Kiir and the government in support of dialogue and a unilateral ceasefire are a welcome change in rhetoric.[fn]“Communiqué of the 30th Extra-ordinary Summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government on South Sudan”, 25 March 2017.Hide Footnote The modalities required for implementation are technically complex, however, and require direct international assistance as well as political will. Greater political support and ceasefire-oriented technical assistance could help mitigate the impact of the current crisis, provided they do not come at the expense of the funding and effort needed for humanitarian operations.

UN officials and diplomats outside South Sudan have made high-level calls for a ceasefire. Yet, they have not put forward realistic ideas on how it might be negotiated among the government and multiple opposition factions, and no tangible work on a ceasefire is being done in-country. Such focus as there is has been on how a ceasefire might enable temporary humanitarian access. That would be welcome but by definition have limited utility. Any ceasefire, whether national or local, should be developed in such a way as to create conditions for dialogue and with an aim of achieving sustainability.

VII. What Is Needed

To prevent further famine and related humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan, the following steps are urgently needed:

  • Donors should fully fund the UN’s humanitarian appeal.
     
  • Sudan and South Sudan should keep open, and increase, humanitarian corridors from Sudan.
     
  • Domestic and international actors should avoid politicising humanitarian assistance and support aid agencies in their efforts to deliver assistance to civilians in locations where civilians feel safe receiving aid, based on impartial negotiated access, and refrain from using the humanitarian situation for political leverage.
     
  • To support President Kiir’s commitment to announce a unilateral ceasefire soon and hold the government to its word, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC) and its partners should provide technical assistance to the government to develop the modalities, with the aim of expanding that ceasefire to include opposition groups and become permanent.
     

South Sudan’s partners should support local dialogue and negotiations between the government and warring factions.

Nairobi/Brussels, 26 April 2017

Appendix A: Map of South Sudan

Map of South Sudan International Crisis Group/KO/May 2016. Based on UN map 4450, October 2011