Tag Archives: South Sudan war

South Sudan – UN relief head says fighting must end to allow humanitarian relief

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan rival parties must silence the guns in order to alleviate the humanitarian suffering crisis in the young nation, the United Nations relief coordinator warned on Wednesday.

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Deputy head of UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Eugene Owusu (YouTube Photo)

Addressing reporters in the capital, Juba, Eugene Owusu, listed several violations against humanitarian work, including the killing of 82 workers over the last three years and impediment to delivery of assistance to the displaced persons as some challenges, alongside the armed conflict in the young nation.

According to Owusu, for U.N humanitarian agencies to assist the 3.5 million people displaced by the conflict that started in 2013, “the guns have to fall silent and the cessation of hostilities must hold.”

“While humanitarians [agencies] will continue to do all that is possible to alleviate suffering, the fact remains that unless the guns fall silent, the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate,” he said.

At least 7.5 million of the estimated 12 million South Sudanese will need assistance in 2017, the U.N humanitarian respond plan showed.

The U.N relief chief said the new clashes in different parts of the country including Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile Region, Wau in Western Bahr El Ghazal and Kajo-Keji in Central Equatoria have triggered new waves of thousands of displaced persons and food insecurity.

STARVATION

“Food insecurity and malnutrition is a serious challenge and have reached unprecedented levels in this country,” said Owusu, adding that “hundreds of thousands of people are facing starvation and a million more are on the brink of famine across the country.”

Famine was declared in Unity State’s Mayendit and Leer countries in February. At least 100,000 people in the home region of Former First Vice President and leader of the armed SPLM in Opposition (IO), Riek Machar, could starve to death due to lack of food. UN agencies said some food was delivered in March to the area.

But in some parts of the country, however, humanitarian workers reportedly had to withdraw due to difficult and dangerous environment and humanitarian workers are “paying with their lives”.

82 aid workers, the U.N said, have been killed since December 2013, including the three humanitarian contractors killed in Wau last week.

“Aid workers are often harassed across the country and humanitarian compounds and supplies have been looted and vandalized, and most recently in Jonglei, in Kajo-Keji, Yei, Wau Shilluk and in Mayendit – all these happened between February and March,” the U.N humanitarian coordinator told reporters in Juba.

The senior U.N official, however, said these challenges were discussed by U.N and government officials to avert future harassment to aid workers, stressing that local governments have not being forthcoming in ending the violence against aid agencies.

Owusu said no amount of humanitarian assistance even if unimpeded access is granted, will end the “long suffering” South Sudanese have endured, without a political solution to the conflict.

“The humanitarian challenges that we are dealing with are the consequences of the failure of politics to reconcile differences and to address grievances. We must fix the politics, all parties must step up efforts towards the political solution to help lessen the humanitarian case-load,” he further observed.

Conflict broke out in December 2013 following months of internal wrangling in the ruling SPLM party over leadership, vision of the party, reforms and democracy. The three-year-old war has killed thousands of people and displaced 1.6 million people as refugees to neighboring countries. Also, an estimated 1.9 million others are internally displaced in the country, with about 200,000 civilians sheltering at the U.N protection of civilians’ sites situated in government-controlled towns.

(ST)

South Sudan – clashes in northwestern town leave 14 dead

Reuters

NAIROBI At least 14 people were killed in the South Sudanese town of Raga when fighting erupted between government forces and the main rebel group, a rebel spokesman said on Saturday, within a week of violence in neighbouring Wau state that killed 16.

The rebels, the main force fighting the government in the famine-hit nation’s civil war, had briefly occupied the northwestern town, near the border with Sudan and Central African Republic, before withdrawing to nearby bases to prepare for a counter-attack.

“For the last two days the government bombed our areas around Raga and yesterday our forces decided to go and raid Raga,” opposition spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel Lam said by phone.

“Around 14 people were counted killed but many are injured … we had one soldier killed with some injuries,” he told Reuters.

The government’s military spokesman, Santo Domic Chol, said “I’m right now in Raga and will talk to you later.”

Oil-rich South Sudan has been riven by violence since 2013, when President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, fired his Nuer deputy Riek Machar. The political showdown quickly split along ethnic lines and has drawn many tribes into a complex patchwork of conflict.

On Monday, at least 16 people were killed in Wau, 200 miles (300 km) from Raga, when government soldiers sealed off roads and allied militias went door-to-door hunting members of ethnic minorities.

The United Nations said 13,500 people had since fled to a U.N.-protected camp in Wau and 3,000 to other locations.

The U.N., which has a large peacekeeping force in the East African nation, confirmed the latest outbreak of violence.

“Fresh fighting has broken out between government SPLA and opposition forces in a number of locations including Raga in the west of South Sudan, Waat in Jonglei to the east and in the area of Wunkur and Tonga in the northern Upper Nile region,” it said in a statement.

In February, the U.N. declared parts of South Sudan were suffering from famine, the world’s first famine for six years.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

 

Less armed conflict but more political violence in Africa

Institute for Security Studies

Conflict data sources show fewer armed conflicts, but are we getting the full picture?

Political violence in Africa is rising and it is more complex than before. But it is significantly less deadly than in previous decades, according to a number of conflict data sources.

Open-source conflict data is increasingly used to supplement reporting and analysis of trends in instability in Africa. A number of recent global reports, including the OECD States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence, use conflict data to show changes in conflict type, actors, tactics and intensity across and within countries over time.

While Africa accounted for only 16% of the global population in 2016, more than a third of global conflict took place here last year. Leading conflict data projects such as the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) show that conflict incidents in Africa rose significantly between 2010 and 2014, but have been declining since 2015.

Levels of high-intensity conflicts and wars (where over 500 people are killed) in Africa, as measured by the Center for Systemic Peace and the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK), are lower than during the 1990s.

Current armed conflicts in Africa are clustered in four regions: North Africa and the Sahel, West Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes region. ACLED reports that between 2010 and 2016, the highest number of politically violent events occurred in Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Across both UCDP and ACLED, in 2015 conflict killed the most people in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya and the DRC.

Despite ongoing brutal conflicts since the early 2000s, violence in Africa has been moving away from armed conflicts to higher levels of riots, protests and social violence, such as homicide and violence associated with organised crime. The evidence base for social violence is however weaker – typically drawn from nationally reported homicide statistics. These sources provide little information about for example actor types, tactics and association with criminal gangs, limiting our ability to understand the relationship between political and social violence.

The three-fold increase in ACLED-reported incidents since 2010 is largely explained by the steady rise of protests and riots, spread across the continent as seen in Figure 1 below. South Africa had the highest number of protest events in 2016, followed by Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt.
Figure 1: Map of event types, 2010-2016

https://issafrica.org/frame/58c7dda254f9f

Source: ACLED, Version 7.0, January 2017.
Remote violence refers to incidents where the tool used doesn’t require physical human presence, for example, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and mortar and missile attacks. Most battle events were fought in Somalia, Libya and Nigeria.

While these arcs of conflict (North Africa/Sahel, West Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes) seem to hold over time, dynamics within conflicts tend to change, as seen in the rise of remote violence. ACLED reports that Somalia saw the highest number of remote violence incidents in Africa in 2016. IEDs have become ‘the weapon of choice’ for al-Shabaab. Remote violence typically targets civilians, while battle actors target each other.

Civilian targeting is on the rise. According to ACLED, the deadliest incidents of civilian targeting in 2016 occurred in Nigeria and Ethiopia and were carried out by militias and state forces. In many settings, there is also a greater number of conflict agents than before. ACLED reports that there were 66 distinct actors in Libya in 2016, for example – almost twice as many as in 2013.

The types of actors and groups involved in conflicts are also changing. Historically, rebel groups and state forces are the most common actors across Africa, but increasingly, political and communal militias and unidentified armed groups dominate. This shift is indicative of changing motivations. Political militias differ from rebel groups in that they don’t seek to directly overthrow the governing regime.

The HIIK Conflict Barometer 2016 finds that most high- and low-intensity wars are shifting away from coup attempts and power grabs compared to previous years, and the continent is witnessing more ‘violent crises’, which are associated with fewer deaths, refugees and internally displaced persons.

But politically motivated violence is only part of the story. In 2013, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Study on Homicide estimated that 31% of global homicides occurred in Africa. So to get the full picture, data is needed on both political/conflict-related violence and criminal violence – a point made by the OECD report and a new report by Rachel Kleinfeld of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For starters, governments need the capacity to better collect data and regularly release crime statistics. These should be disaggregated by gender and include important information, such as links with organised crime. Different data sources also need to be standardised and made compatible with each other so that they can be compared.

This is necessary, as Kleinfeld points out, if African countries want to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to ‘significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths everywhere’.

Ciara Aucoin, Researcher, African Futures and Innovation, ISS Pretoria

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South Sudan – UN denied access to alleged massacre site

Reuters

NAIROBI South Sudanese authorities are blocking United Nations peacekeepers from visiting a town where soldiers are alleged to have killed civilians including children this week, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Friday.

Peacekeepers have been trying to get to the town of Pajok, near the border with Uganda, for four days after unconfirmed reports emerged of mass killings.

“They are still not there,” said Shantal Persaud, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Mission in South Sudan. “Negotiations continue with the local authorities.”

The peacekeepers have been barred by the South Sudanese military, New York-based U.N. spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said this week.

Thousands of South Sudanese refugees fled into Uganda this week after they said government forces killed civilians in Pajok on Monday. A Reuters tally of witness testimonies counted at least 17 deaths.

The refugees said some of those killed were children shot as they tried to flee, while others had their throats slit before their bodies were strung up from door frames.

The South Sudanese government denied its forces targeted civilians. It said an operation in Pajok, a town of more than 50,000 people 15 km (10 miles) north of the Ugandan frontier, was to flush out guerrillas.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war, but has been mired in factional conflict since President Salva Kiir sacked his vice president Riek Machar in 2013. The fighting that followed has often split the country along ethnic lines.

Both sides have targeted civilians, human rights groups say.

More than 6,000 people fled from Pajok to Uganda this week, Babar Baloch, a U.N. refugee agency spokesman, said in a statement on Friday.

“Refugees report witnessing their loved ones shot dead at a close range, with many arrested or slaughtered, including children. Families fled in different directions; the elderly and disabled who could not run were shot dead,” he said.

Baloch added that many displaced people were still hiding in the bush trying to find their way to Uganda while homes and properties had been looted and burned, with main roads out of the town reported to be blocked by armed groups.

The assault on Pajok is the latest in a series of attacks in the fertile Equatoria region. Many towns and villages in the region are now deserted, residents say.

Around 1.7 million people have fled South Sudan, most of them to Uganda, which is struggling to cope with the influx. Nearly two-thirds of the new arrivals are children.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

UN warns that South Sudan is fastest growing refugee crisis

UN News Service

Refugees from South Sudan arrive in Elegu, northern Uganda Photo: UNHCR/Will Swanson

The number of South Sudanese fleeing their homes is “alarming,” the United Nations refugee agency today said, announcing that 1.6 million people have either been displaced or fled to neighbouring countries in the past eight months ago.

“A famine produced by the vicious combination of fighting and drought is now driving the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Babar Baloch, told journalists at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

He added that “the rate of new displacement is alarming, representing an impossible burden on a region that is significantly poorer and which is fast running short of resources to cope.”

Refugees from South Sudan are crossing the borders to the neighbouring countries. The majority of them go to Uganda where new arrivals spiked from 2,000 per day to 6,000 per day in February, and currently average more than 2,800 people per day.

“The situation is now critical,” said Mr. Baloch, warning that recent rains are making the humanitarian situation more difficult.

VIDEO: UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch warns that South Sudan is facing world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.

The UN agency is reiterating its calls for financial support. Aid for South Sudanese refugees is only eight per cent funded at $781.8 million, and UNHCR’s funding appeal for Uganda urgently needs $267 million.

The situation in Uganda is a “first and major test” of the commitments made at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants last September, the spokesperson said.

One of the main achievements of the Summit was to create a refugee response framework that integrates humanitarian and development efforts. This translates into giving refugees land and allowing them to access job markets, for example.

The situation of refugees in Uganda could impact how the UN and humanitarian partners are working to support national authorities in the other neighbouring countries – the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.

“No neighbouring country is immune,” said Mr. Baloch.

‘Security situation continues to deteriorate’

Also today, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (UNMISS), David Shearer, warned that the security situation in the country is worsening, and national authorities are not taking action.

“The situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate and generate profound human suffering for the population of that country – suffering in which local and ethnic divisions have been exploited for political ends,” David Shearer told a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on South Sudan.

He added that the recent escalation of fighting in Equatoria– considered the food basket of South Sudan – has led to a significant displacement of civilians and disrupted food production for the country.

Intense fighting is also reported in the Upper Nile. Satellite imagery shows much of one town, Wau Shilluk, destroyed and deserted.

The senior UN official reiterated concerns about the humanitarian situation in the country, calling the ongoing crisis “entirely man-made.” An estimated 100,000 people are facing starvation and an additional one million are classified as being on the brink of famine.

Mr. Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country, urged access for humanitarian organisations and the UN mission.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN aid chief urges global action as starvation, famine loom for 20 million across four countries

South Sudan – UN reports slams arms purchases during famine

allAfrica/DW

A proposal for an arms embargo was supported by the United States in December, but the plan was rejected by the UN Security Council. Could the international body be ready to change it position as suffering continues?

A confidential UN report slams the government of South Sudan for spending more than half its budget on weapons and security as 100,000 people are dying of starvation

The human misery is the result of famine caused primarily by ever-increasing government attacks in the area.

Experts say another 1.1 million are near starvation. In addition, the number of people desperately needing food is expected to hit 5.5 million in the “lean season in July … if nothing is done to curb the severity and breadth of the food crisis.”

The report also calls for an arms embargo on South Sudan – a measure supported by the United States but rejected by the UN Security Council during a vote in December.

“Weapons continue to flow into South Sudan from diverse sources, often with the coordination of neighboring countries,” said the report by a panel of experts.

The experts found a “preponderance of evidence (that) shows continued procurement of weapons by the leadership in Juba” for the army, the security services, militias and other “associated forces.”

A petrostate

Rich in oil, South Sudan generates 97 percent of its budget revenue from petroleum sales. From late March to late October 2016, oil revenues totaled about $243 million, according to calculations from the panel.

At least half – “and likely substantially more” – of its budget expenditures are devoted to security issues including arms purchases, the 48-page report said.

President Salva Kiir’s government has continued to make arms deals even as a famine was declared in parts of Unity state, where the famine is most acute.

 South Sudan arms purchases

“The bulk of evidence suggests that the famine in Unity state has resulted from protracted conflict and, in particular, the cumulative toll of repeated military operations undertaken by the government in southern Unity beginning in 2014,” according to the report.

The government is compounding the food crisis by blocking access for humanitarian aid workers. Significant population displacement has helped exacerbate the famine.

Fighting began intensifying last July, devastating food production in areas that have traditionally been stable for farmers, including the Equatorial region, which is considered the country’s breadbasket.

After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and some 3.5 million people displaced.

bik/sms (AP, AFP)

South Sudan – aid convoy attacked by gunmen; two killed

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

JUBA Gunmen have attacked an aid convoy in famine-hit South Sudan, killing two people and wounding three, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday.

The attack underscored the dangers confronting aid agencies in the world’s youngest country at a time nearly half its population, or about 5.5 million people, face food shortages. The United Nations has already declared a famine in some parts.

South Sudan has been mired in a conflict that has split the nation along ethnic lines and forced more than three million people to flee their homes. Aid workers have been kidnapped, shot at and had their supplies looted by armed men.

The attack occurred on Tuesday near Yirol, in the centre of the country about 210 km (130 miles) northwest of the capital of Juba, where the aid workers had been dealing with a cholera outbreak.

In a statement, the IOM said the convoy was targeted as it returned to Yirol, with the gunmen ambushing one of the vehicles. Two people died of gunshot wounds, the aid group said, and an IOM health officer was among the wounded.

The identity and motivation of the attackers were unknown, the statement said.

Also on Thursday, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said its hospital in Wau Shilluk had been looted during recent heavy fighting.

“Wau Shilluk was looted of all medicines including life-saving drugs and essential supplies,” Abdalla Hussein Abdalla, the deputy head of mission for South Sudan, said in a statement. “Our hospital is in a terrible condition.”

Earlier this week, gunmen briefly detained eight local employees of U.S. charity Samaritan’s Purse.

The civil war erupted in 2013 when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.

Machar’s rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (In Opposition), on Thursday criticised a new rebel faction led by an army general who resigned earlier this year.

A statement allegedly released by the new rebel faction said that Machar’s forces in the Equatoria region, near the Ugandan frontier, had pledged loyalty to former General Thomas Cirillo Swaka.

“The SPLA IO is totally amazed and at the same time DISAPPROVES the claim of Thomas Cirillo that its forces in Equatoria region have pledged loyalty to him and his new faction,” the statement said.

“We urge General Thomas to reconsider his strategy and not play into the hands of Salva Kiir’s allies in the region, whose intention is to divide the opposition.”

(Reporting by Denis Dumo; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams and Richard Lough)