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Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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Africa

South Sudan

Kenya hosted talks between holdout opposition groups and govt, intercommunal violence remained rampant, and disruption of oil exports deepened economic crisis. 

Govt and holdout opposition groups held peace talks in Kenya. High-level mediation 9 May started in Kenyan capital Nairobi, bringing together govt and some opposition groups that did not sign 2018 peace accord, including South Sudan United Front, Real-Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and South Sudan People’s Movement/Army (SSPM/A); National Salvation Front led by Thomas Cirillo and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition Kitwang led by Simon Gatwech did not participate, dimming hopes for wider deal. SSPM/A leader Stephen Buay 20 May accused govt of sending agents to Nairobi to target him and threatened to withdraw from talks. Kenyan authorities same day launched investigation into claims; in the meantime, Buay agreed to continue participating.

Communal violence persisted in several regions. Notably, in Jonglei region alleged Murle ambush 9 May killed three in Duk county; suspected armed Lou Nuer youth from Jonglei 12 May reportedly raided villages in Likuangole county, Greater Pibor Administrative Area, abducting nine people and raiding cattle. Authorities from Abyei area and Warrap State early May traded blame for deadly violence and cattle raids. Fighting between Balanda and Azande in Tombura county, Western Equatoria, reportedly displaced over 10,000 by 2 May. 

Disruption of oil exports fuelled fiscal crisis. Breakdown of main oil pipeline continued to threaten currency collapse and fuel spike in food costs, raising risk of renewed instability and violence. Central Bank governor 3 May said oil reserves are “at historically low levels”, affecting foreign currency reserves. Official 28 May claimed operations would resume imminently, though acknowledged oil had gelled along pipeline; industry experts maintained that repairs necessary to restart exports would take at least months to complete.

Concerns over election preparedness persisted. U.S. 9 May warned it would not support electoral process without urgent govt action to implement 2018 peace agreement. Body tasked with tracking implementation of agreement 23 May said there was “no evidence of sufficient preparation” for elections. Meanwhile, UN Security Council 30 May renewed sanctions on South Sudan for one year, including arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes.

Africa

South Sudan

South Africa’s president brokered talks between Kiir and Machar ahead of December poll, Murle youth from Jonglei State launched well-coordinated deadly attack, and economy worsened.

South African president held high-level political talks in capital Juba. South African President Ramaphosa 16-18 April visited capital Juba to mediate talks between President Kiir and VP Machar. Ramaphosa publicly emphasised need for govt to prepare for Dec elections, though mediation likely sought to broker pre-election deal that could see Machar rejoining Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)as deputy; rank and file of Kiir and Machar’s parties showed discontent at secrecy of diplomacy amid deep polarisation.

International community reiterated concerns over election preparedness. Political Parties Council and National Election Commission – tasked with organising poll – 4 April received first batch of allocated funding, representing only fraction of requested money, leaving electoral process vastly underfunded. UN Sec-Gen Guterres 8 April transmitted letter to UN Security Council outlining over a dozen outstanding preconditions essential for holding fair election and emphasising urgent need for technical, legal and operational assistance. U.S. 16 April said South Sudan’s politicians so far have “failed to meet the standards necessary for genuine and peaceful elections”. UN Security Council 29 April renewed UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) mandate for one year.

Jonglei state saw worrying uptick in intercommunal violence. In one of the most serious escalations since 2020 war in Jonglei, armed Murle youth from Jonglei State’s Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) 26 April launched well-coordinated and well-armed attack on Toposa cattle keepers in Kapoeta East County (Eastern Equatoria state), killing unknown number and abducting scores of women and children; UNMISS 30 April deployed additional peacekeepers to Jonglei and Kapoeta East county to deter more violence. Meanwhile, former leader of Murle rebel group David Yau Yau 1 April defected from SPLM to join Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition, raising fears of electoral violence in GPAA, 29 April announced he had returned to SPLM. 

Pipeline rupture hurt economy. Main pipeline exporting South Sudan’s oil remained in disrepair, plunging country further into economic and fiscal crisis; Juba 25 April claimed oil exports through pipeline would resume within two months.

Africa

South Sudan

Disruptions in oil exports harmed economy, raising risk of currency collapse and political turmoil in lead-up to planned December polls; localised clashes persisted. 

Lack of oil revenue hurt economy and could fuel political turmoil. Authorities remained unable to restart oil exports following damage in Feb to main oil pipeline, which carries 65-75% of country’s crude to market through Sudan; repairing pipeline could prove near impossible due to fighting in Sudan. Disruption of oil production led to collapse of South Sudanese pound against USD from 1100 in early Feb to 2000 by 25 March. Central Bank and Ministry of Finance 29 March announced measures to stabilise exchange market. Economic meltdown and collapse of President Kiir’s patronage system could follow if production is not restored and govt is unable to find lender to bail it out.

Array of actors warned about lack of preparedness for polls and risk of violence. Deputy Chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), Nathaniel Oyet Perino, 1 March said conditions for credible elections, slated for Dec, were not in place. UN head of peacekeeping operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, 5 March warned of “potential for violence with disastrous consequences” if polls not managed carefully, concluded country is “not ready for elections”. Minister of Presidential Affairs 19 March said Kiir rejected extension of transitional period and vowed elections would take place. Coalition of Opposition Parties 25 March filed petition demanding revocation of $50,000 registration fee for parties registering candidates, move they say is designed to restrict opposition participation. 

Intercommunal violence continued. Armed attackers 5 March killed UN Mission in South Sudan staff member in Abiemnhom county, Ruweng Administrative Area. Armed youth suspected of allegiance to Nuer spiritual leader Gai Machiek 9 March reportedly killed nine Misseriya and stole over 300 cattle in Kuerchiedieng village, Unity state. Armed youth suspected to be from Anyuak community 19 March killed fifteen, including Boma County commissioner, in Nyat village, Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

Africa

South Sudan

Intercommunal violence escalated across much of South Sudan, killing hundreds; pipeline damage and Sudan war disrupted oil exports, threatening economy and regime stability.

Intercommunal violence killed hundreds. Deadly clashes between Twic Dinka from Warrap state and Ngok Dinka from Abyei Administrative area continued; notably, Twic Dinka 3-4 Feb attacked villages in southern part of Abyei, killing 37. Overcrowding and insufficient grazing land in parts of Warrap state heightened tensions between Dinka from Tonj county, Warrap, and Lou from Jur River county, Western Bahr al-Ghazal state; Dinka 5 Feb attacked police station protecting Lou community in Jur River, killing over twenty. In Jonglei state, Murle youth 4 Feb attacked Thep cattle camp, killing seven Lou Nuer youth; Lou Nuer from Uror, Akono and Nyriol counties reportedly contemplating joining Dinka from Duk and Twic East counties to attack Greater Pibor Administrative Area, where Murle hail from. UN Envoy 26 Feb warned that intercommunal fighting will undermine ability to hold elections in December. Meanwhile, rebel group National Salvation Front 25 Feb claimed attack on army ammunition store in capital Juba.

Pipeline damage and Sudan war disrupted oil exports. Sudanese Bashayer Pipeline Company 12 Feb reported loss of pressure in oil pipeline running from Upper Nile state to Port Sudan city in Sudan; 16 Feb reportedly fixed issue, but lack of maintenance and regular supply of diesel to run pumping stations, many of which run through territory controlled by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, will potentially lead to other problems that could cause irreparable damage to pipelines; building new ones amid Sudan war would be logistically challenging. Meanwhile, UN Envoy 20 Feb warned of indications that Sudanese warring parties were recruiting in South Sudan.

Economic crisis weighed heavily on political apparatus. Permanent shutdown of oil exports from Upper Nile, which account for 60% of oil production, would threaten economy and President Kiir’s patronage system. Minister of Finance Bak Barnaba 18 Feb said govt was unable to pay civil servants and soldiers, called for drastic austerity measures as value of South Sudanese pound dropped; govt 26 Feb blamed economic crisis in part on impact of Sudan war on oil exports.

Africa

South Sudan

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. 

Africa

South Sudan

Intercommunal fighting continued in Abyei region and spilled into Warrap state, tensions between Riek Machar’s forces and defected commander escalated in Unity state, and concerns about 2024 poll persisted.

Hostilities between rival Dinka in Abyei and Warrap state continued. Fighting between Ngok Dinka from disputed Abyei Administrative Area and Twic Dinka from Warrap state continued in Abyei. Notably, Twic 2 Dec set up checkpoints in Athony-Ayuok village, prompting clashes 2, 3 Dec that killed at least six. Armed men 31 Dec killed six, including Abyei deputy chief administrator, on Abyei-Aneet town road; Abyei authorities blamed Twic youth from Warrap state. Crisis contributed to breakdown of security situation in Warrap. Notably, Twic youth 3 Dec attacked state prison, freeing and arming 57 cattle guards, 35 of which reportedly joined militias. Two sections of Rek Dinka 8 Dec fought over ownership of cattle camp, killing five armed Dinka youth. Fighting in Atonj area 14 Dec killed at least eight, 17 Dec killed seven.

Tensions between Riek Machar’s forces and defected commander sparked fighting. Standoff between forces of Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) and Simon Maguek Gai (IO commander who defected to army in Oct) sparked sporadic fighting in Unity state. SPLA-IO late Nov left Leer town following clashes and by 2 Dec fighting had reached Guit county. Weakened SPLA-IO 14-15 Dec also withdrew from Bentiu town near Guit and moved to cantonment after army allegedly threatened force if they did not leave, which army denied; Panyijiar county now last SPLA-IO stronghold in Unity and likely target of Maguek Gai’s next military operation.

Concerns about election preparedness mounted. 70 local civil society organisations 1 Dec issued statement warning country is not ready for elections; UN Special Representative Nicholas Haysom 14 Dec reiterated concerns before UN Security Council. Meanwhile, President Kiir 12 Dec replaced Minister of Presidential Affairs Barnaba Marial Benjamin with new ally Joseph Bakosoro, an Equatorian Zande seen as possible running-mate in election to garner support in Equatorian region.

Africa

South Sudan

Hostilities between Twic Dinka from Warrap state and Ngok Dinka from disputed Abyei area escalated, leaving scores dead amid retaliatory violence and reported army involvement.

Violence spiked in Abyei area and Warrap state, killing dozens. Border skirmishes 13 Nov erupted between Twic Dinka from Warrap state and Ngok Dinka from disputed Abyei Administrative Area; Abyei officials accused national army, which is prohibited from entering Abyei (a demilitarised zone), of fighting alongside Twic youth, though army denied allegations. Hostilities reportedly left dozens dead. Violence 19 Nov intensified again when armed Twic youths entered several villages in Abyei in attacks, killing at least 27. Head of UN mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, 23 Nov said recent violence killed at least 75 and urged govt to investigate. Meanwhile, Sudan conflict neared Abyei (see Sudan) and could aggravate tensions between Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities given latter’s proximity to paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and recruitment campaigns of Sudan’s warring parties.

President Kiir reconstituted key electoral institutions. As 2024 elections inched closer, President Kiir 3 Nov reconstituted National Election Commission (NEC), Political Parties Council and National Constitution Review Commission. Failure to appoint single opposition candidate to NEC leadership, which will play crucial role in conduct of polls, prompted Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) to reject its composition.

South Sudan deployed first Necessary Unified Forces (NUF). After four-year delay, South Sudan 15 Nov deployed first 750 NUF members as stipulated in peace agreement. Deployment sparked controversy as most troops selected are former members of South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, army of governing party; troops were also deployed to Tonga town (Upper Nile state), where hostilities between SPLM-IO and govt-allied Agwalek militia reignited late Oct, raising fears NUF could intervene against SPLA-IO.

In another important development. Security forces 10 Nov increased presence in capital Juba during President Kiir’s trip to Saudi Arabia, triggering rumours of coup attempt; army leadership dismissed Inspector General of National Police Services. President Kiir 27 Nov reshuffled cabinet, replacing Warrap state governor and three national ministers.

Africa

South Sudan

UN denounced repression of civil society amid growing concerns about readiness for 2024 election, key opposition commanders defected to govt, and insecurity continued in several states.

UN condemned govt repression amid concerns about election. UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan 5 Oct issued damning report on civic space in light of 2024 elections, accusing govt and intelligence agency of abuses against journalists and civil society members, and “extreme intolerance towards expressions of criticism”; report concluded that free and fair elections are unimaginable under current conditions. Govt next day cancelled visit of UN special rapporteur on human rights of internally displaced persons. Interim Chair of Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) – tasked with tracking implementation of 2018 peace agreement – Maj Gen Charles Tai Gituai 5 Oct warned lack of progress on election-preparedness is creating uncertainty and urged govt not to abandon constitution-making provisions of peace deal. Briefing UN Security Council, RJMEC Chief of Staff Berhanu Kebede 23 Oct highlighted importance of reconstituting Political Parties Council and National Election Commission before elections.

Collapse of main opposition movement continued unabated. In severe blow to VP Riek Machar’s diminished People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), Unity State Commander Lt. Gen Simon Maguek Gai 10 Oct defected to govt along with several division commanders; Maguek Gai returned to Leer County (Unity State) to mobilise disaffected youth, raising fears of armed confrontation with Machar’s forces; Jonglei State sector commander Lt. Gen Michael Wal Nyak 19 Oct defected. Loss of two key commanders drastically reduced SPLA-IO’s military capacity in Unity and Jonglei states.

Insecurity persisted in several states. Unknown assailants 11 Oct killed four civilians in Budi County, Eastern Equatoria state. Attack by Twic county youth 13 Oct killed four in Athonyi village, Abyei area. Skirmish between two Dinka communities 15 Oct killed three in Twic East County, Jonglei State.

Juba hosted meeting on Sudan crisis as refugees faced hunger crisis. UN World Food Program 3 Oct warned of looming hunger crisis for South Sudanese returnees fleeing war in Sudan. Juba 24-25 Oct hosted Sudan’s Juba Peace Agreement signatories for discussions on ending war.

Africa

South Sudan

Opposition denounced controversial election bill amid ongoing disagreements about South Sudan’s readiness for 2024 poll; insecurity escalated in several states.

Opposition decried controversial election bill. Parliament 18 Sept hastily passed National Election Act amid pressure from President Kiir. VP Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) boycotted vote and staged walkout over last-minute amendment giving president-elect right to appoint additional 5% of legislators, saying bill went against peace agreement and would lead to “undemocratic” poll; stance raises possibility of SPLA-IO boycotting 2024 vote as disagreement on prerequisites for credible election persisted. Other aspects of bill, such as increase in number of MPs from 250 to 332, dashed hopes for simplified and cheaper govt; Kiir 26 Sept signed bill into law. Kiir same day appointed Angelina Teny, former Defence Minister and Machar’s wife, as new Interior Minister; Teny’s sacking from Defence Minister position in March had caused controversy for violating peace agreement.

Insecurity, including abuses by govt forces, intensified. Unknown assailants 16 Sept killed four in ambush on Akobo-Bor road (Jonglei state). Unknown assailants 23 Sept attacked UN children fund (UNICEF) convoy that had been delivering aid in Central Equatoria State, killing two aid workers and destroying humanitarian supplies; UNICEF subsequently paused deliveries to area. Month saw President Kiir’s South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), disgruntled by low wages, step up abuses. Notably, SSPDF soldiers 7 Sept extrajudicially executed civilian in Bor town (Jonglei). SSPDF commander 17 Sept reportedly executed former commander of Pochalla area (Greater Pibor Administrative Area) who had allegedly begun mobilising Anyuak youth after army sacked him; ensuing fighting between SSPDF and Anyuak youth 17-18 Sept killed at least ten, with SSPDF using helicopter gunships against Pochalla town’s population.

President Kiir engaged in flurry of diplomatic activity. President Kiir 4 Sept hosted Sudanese army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Juba, 17 Sept welcomed Sudanese delegation led by Darfur governor Minni Minawi. Kiir 14 Sept visited Ugandan President Museveni in Ugandan capital Kampala, 18 Sept met UN Sec-Gen António Guterres in New York, and 28 Sept met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russian capital Moscow. President’s frequent foreign trips indicated confidence in measures undertaken to coup-proof regime.

Africa

South Sudan

President Kiir appointed ally as finance minister amid deteriorating relations with U.S. over Juba’s economic management; concerns about country’s preparedness for elections persisted.

U.S. issued business advisory over govt’s economic mismanagement. Minister of Petroleum, Puat Kang Chol, and Minister of Roads and Bridges, Simon Mijok Mijak, 3 Aug appeared in front of Public Financial Management (PFM) Oversight Committee, reportedly painting grim picture of govt’s economic mismanagement. Chol presented numbers that revealed misappropriation of oil income while Mijok reportedly described non-transparent procurement process for road building project and vastly inflated prices for its development. Days after presentation and amid years of mounting frustration, U.S. Department of State, Labor and Commerce 14 Aug issued advisory warning U.S. companies that conducting business with enterprises linked to South Sudanese govt officials or their families comes with “reputational, financial and legal risks”. Move marked significant escalation from previous warnings of business dealings with sanctioned individuals and companies. Meanwhile, President Kiir 3 Aug sacked Finance Minister Dier Tong Ngor and replaced him with Bak Barnaba Chol, who hails from Kiir’s home state Warrap; appointment set to tighten Kiir’s grip on public resources.

Stalled election preparations raised concerns. Head of UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Nicholas Haysom 2 Aug said country “is not yet ready for elections”; UNMISS Deputy Head Guang Cong 10 Aug reiterated warning, while interim chairperson of peace monitoring mechanism Charles Tai Gituai same day said authorities had made no progress on implementing key sections of peace deal. Despite concerns, govt 15 Aug said South Sudan would hold elections in 2024 according to schedule without implementing key provisions like census, border demarcation and provisions for displaced populations. VP Machar 29 Aug met with South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile in capital Juba, with latter offering to help resolve “challenges that may hinder free and fair elections”.

In other important developments. UNMISS 28 Aug reported thousands of South Sudanese refugees had returned to Akobo town from Ethiopia, owing to “ethnically fuelled violence within refugee camps in the Ethiopian Gambella region” and food shortages. Juba 3 Aug acceded to international Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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