Tag Archives: South Sudan

South Sudan cease-fire blows up, days after the ink dries

A general view shows flood waters within the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 1, 2014. Drazen Jorgic/Reuters

By Jason PatinkinCorrespondent, Will DavisonCorrespondent / May 15, 2014

Malakal, South Sudan; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — A cease-fire inked days ago between South Sudan’s warring leaders is falling apart, dimming hopes for a quick peace that is widely seen as needed to ensure that millions of civilians have access to basic humanitarian aid.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed at a meeting last Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to end a brutal five-month civil war that has seen thousands killed and more than a million people displaced. The agreement was nearly identical to a previous cease-fire signed in January, which collapsed in days.

Now, with fighting reported hours after the cease-fire went into effect Saturday night, and continuing daily, it seems the new deal is faring almost as badly as its predecessor.  Read more…

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A South Sudan surprise: breakthrough on peace talks? Maybe.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (r.) chats with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the President’s Office in Juba, South Sudan, May 2. Saul Loeb/Pool/AP

Juba, South Sudan — Leaders of both sides of South Sudan’s bloody five-month civil conflict agreed Tuesday to go to Ethiopia for peace talks this Friday.

The announcement comes after a week of heavy diplomacy, with visits to South Sudan’s capital by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who threatened targeted economic sanctions against the belligerents. After months of a fruitless peace process, there are at least some tentative hopes now for a breakthrough.  Read more…

Hunger and disease wreak havoc in war-devastated South Sudan

Government soldiers in South Sudan. File photo. CHARLES LOMODONG / AFP

Juba, South Sudan — A long queue forms every morning in frontof a clinic in Tomping refugee camp  of South Sudanese capital Juba, where thousands have sought shelter for fear of being killed for their ethnicity.

Mothers bring children wrapped in blankets whom nurses place on scales to weigh for malnutrition. But one afternoon, the small bundle in the arms of one mother was silent and no longer moved.

“It’s a shame,” said Matthieu Ebel, coordinator of the clinic run by the aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), after he arranged for the tiny body to be collected for burial.

“People think of the fighting. But these are the consequences, too.” Disease and hunger are taking a toll across South Sudan, four months into the conflict between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 900,000 displaced in the power struggle.

An unknown number of civilians have perished from disease and malnutrition as armed groups have ransacked medical facilities and displaced people have missed the planting season.  Read more…

Young men and guns: Why South Sudan’s war flamed so fast and brightly

Rebels sit in the now-emptied hospital in Malakal, South Sudan, in February. Photo by Ilya Gridneff/AP

Juba, South Sudan — Gabriel Mabior left South Sudan’s army for the same reason he joined it: he wanted an education.

Mr. Mabior signed up to be a child soldier in 1987 after being assured that a pledge to fight would give him a seat in school.

But like thousands of other boys, he was quickly yanked out of school and ended up fighting for years for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army against the government of Sudan.

Mabior, now a soft-spoken and thoughtful businessman with a proclivity for button-down shirts, feels proud of his contribution to the liberation struggle that led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011. Freedom allowed him to earn a university degree, he says, which is why he chose to fight in the first place – and achieving a degree was unlikely under the old Sudan regime in Khartoum.

But Mabior, who lives in the capitol Juba, is now frustrated that South Sudanese are fighting again instead of pursuing what he describes as the fruits of liberation and peace, like study and individual growth.

“What are you fighting for?” the former child soldier asks. “This is the time for young people to live. This is the time for peace. This is the time for education.”  Read more…

Forgotten among the forgotten: Foreign refugees in South Sudan’s civil strife

At this camp in Juba, more than 10,000 people are sheltering, including hundreds of Eritreans who are afraid to go back to their country. Photo by Jason Patinkin

Juba, South Sudan — Two years ago when Peter moved here from nearby Eritrea, things looked pretty good: South Sudan was a new country getting international help. The city of Bor, where Peter opened a general store, was along a major corridor of emerging oil wealth and prosperity.

South Sudan was in fact a refuge, politically and religiously freer and less repressive than Eritrea. Peter, who will not give his real name for fear of reprisal, could escape what has become Eritrea’s notorious forced conscription policy, where the government is grabbing men up to the age of 50 for indefinite Army service. Plus, getting across the South Sudan border was not too difficult.

But now he finds himself caught in South Sudan’s brutal civil strife. A slight man with a short, shaggy Afro, he is living in a refugee camp of 10,000 people in the capitol of Juba. And at this point he just wants to leave this place and find some safer haven.  Read more…

Even in garrison town, no sanctuary for South Sudan’s civilians

Displaced people who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor by boat across the White Nile bathe and gather water from the Nile in the town of Awerial, South Sudan, Jan. 1, 2014.  Ben Curtis/AP/File

Bor, South Sudan —  Adhieu Makuach waits with her three children atop a pile of suitcases and mattresses on the banks of the White Nile that traverses this strategic town.

Bor has been the epicenter of bitter fighting between the Army and rebels in a civil conflict that appears increasingly intractable. The Army finally won, but not before Bor was flattened.

Ms. Makuach is hoping to board a boat to a refugee camp. For days, loudspeaker messages from a government truck driving up and down the bank have urged people like her to stay. But Makuach wants out, in case the bullets start flying again.

“We’re afraid of the rebels,” she says. “We don’t know if [they] will come or go.”

That civilians such as Makuach are still fleeing for their lives 10 weeks into South Sudan’s brutal conflict, even now that Bor has become a heavily armed garrison for the Army, shows that military gains are fragile and not trusted by ordinary people, analysts say. A few returnees are trying to rebuild. But many coming out of the bush and seeing the destruction of their homes, leave directly for camps.  Read more…

Refugees in their own land: South Sudan camps breed idleness, frustration

Displaced people do their daily chores such as bathing, washing clothes, cooking, and fetching water at a United Nations compound which has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 29, 2013.  Ben Curtis/AP/File

Juba, South Sudan — The two UN compounds in South Sudan‘s capital Juba each host a crowded camp of humanity – refugees from 10 weeks of war. As fighting continues despite a flimsy ceasefire signed in Addis Ababa, these camps, or others like them around the country, are places to hear stories of the conflict.

Yet if one didn’t visit these two camps, it would be hard to know that this is the capital of a country at war with itself. Traffic flows serenely. Shops are open and busy – and the only sign of unrest is an 11 p.m curfew.

Indeed, in a visit to the UN compound known as Tomping, which abuts the Juba airport, UN staff in sweatsuits jog in the early morning past long rows of gray air-conditioned offices; at noon, diplomats and peacekeepers eat nice lunches and check emails on Wi-Fi in a wood paneled restaurant.

Yet a few surreal steps away, in what is another world, some 27,000 people are crammed into makeshift shelters set so close together there is often no space to walk between. Some shelters are built beneath old airplane staircases, and others are made of tarps tied to abandoned trucks. People camp next to clogged and smelly drainage canals. Unless they brought a bed frame, everyone sleeps on a ground of hard-packed dust.   Read more…