War Risks for South Sudan

16 Dec 2011 | 18:23

War risks for South Sudan

Since South Sudan gained independent statehood in July this year, fighting between the North and South has intensified, exacerbating insecurity in the border area. This had led to worsening humanitarian conditions, mass displacements, and safety and security challenges for humanitarian agencies operating in the region. Rumours of imminent war between the two states are widely reported and the inflexible positions taken in peace talks do not give much hope for a swift resolution. Meanwhile, inter-ethnic fighting in South-Sudan, particularly in Unity and Jonglei states creates further instability and poses great challenges to the government of the world’s newest state.

UN warns of war between Sudan and South Sudan
Source: Sudan Tribune 15/12/2011

Rumours of war
Source: the economist 19/11/2011

The History of Sudan’s Third Civil War
Source: Sudan Tribune 10/12/2011

Cross border violence and displaced populations
As fighting increases in the border area, negotiations have failed to lead to an agreement between (North) Sudan and South Sudan on issues such as border demarcation, distribution of oil revenues, debt and the disputed areas of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile state.

The continued violence between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile state has led to mass displacement of civilians towards South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states, as well as into neighbouring Ethiopia.  A total of 417,000 people are said to be displaced, and UNHCR reports a daily influx of 1,000 refugees into South Sudan’s Upper Nile state.

So far 23,000 people have been registered in the Doro refugee camp.  According to UNHCR, “Thousands more [refugees] are thought to be stranded in remote locations along the border”.

Humanitarian access remains a big challenge. U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Peter de Clerq told reporters in Khartoum that since all international aid agencies continue to be barred from South Kordofan by the Sudanese government, exact assessments of humanitarian need are impossible.

Sudan border fighting displaces over 400,000 people - U.N.
Source: UK Reuters 13/12/2011

SUDAN-SOUTH SUDAN: Humanitarian crisis warning as thousands flee fighting
Source: IRIN 9/12/2011

Ongoing internal conflicts
Levels of insecurity are also growing in the refugee camps close to the border. In November, a Sudanese air strike targeted the Yida camp in South Sudan’s Unity State; last week, confrontations at nearby Jau, intensified fears that fighting may spread to the camps.  

These safety concerns have disrupted the assistance agencies are able to offer at the camp, as staff are evacuated, and airlifts of food have been temporarily suspended.  UNHCR has begun efforts to relocate refugees to new camps further south, at a safer distance from the border, but face some opposition from refugees.
Refugees International’s report on South Sudan, which places the number of IDPs in 2011 at 330,000, can be found here.

Refugees reluctant to move to safety as war looms
Source: InterPress Third World News Agency 14.12.2011

Sudan weekly humanitarian bulletin (2-11 December 2011)
Source: Reliefweb 15/12/2011

Internal fighting in Jonglei state
Despite plans for a peace conference in January 2012, inter-ethnic violence between the Luo Nuer and Murle communities remains intense. In raids last week 40 people were killed, homes were destroyed, and livestock were taken. The U.N. urged reconciliation as the peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) assisted to evacuate the wounded for treatment.

Meanwhile, clashes continue between the SPLA and forces loyal to renegade general George Athor Deng, who Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk claims are supported by the Sudanese government. Athor has repeatedly threatened to create instability, most recently announcing his intention to capture the state capital, and demanding that the local population and International NGOs leave strategic locations.

Athor’s S. Sudan rebels threaten to capture Jonglei’s capital
Source: Sudan Tribune 11/12/2011

South Sudan has "evidence" that Khartoum is supporting Athor's rebellion - governor
Source: Sudan Tribune, 14/12/2011

The international community
The Security Council on Wednesday expanded the mandate of the Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) to include providing support to Sudan and South Sudan in the development of effective bilateral border management mechanisms.

The step reflects the statements made by the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in his briefing to the Security Council last week, in which he urged the Council to encourage “the prompt return of both parties to the negotiating table to prevent a further descent into violence that could impact the whole region”.

Both states are currently in violation of commitments made in June to withdraw armed forces from Abyei.

Further reading:
Crisis watch 100 on South Sudan

Source: International Crisis Group Africa Report 01/12/2011

Key political risks to watch in Sudan and South Sudan
Source: Reuters 10/12/2011

South Sudan: Compounding Instability in Unity State
Source: International Crisis Group Africa Report 17/10/2011


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