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

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.

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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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