Tag Archives: SPLA

Slow Response Follows Forced Conscription of Hundreds of Child Soldiers in South Sudan

Despite accusations of war crimes and pledges by the various sides of South Sudan’s year-long civil war to stop using child soldiers and to release those they have recruited, forced recruitment continues unabated. Hundreds of boys were abducted by government troops in the village of Wau Shilluk two weeks ago in one of the worst cases yet reported. Read more…

Photo by Jason Patinkin, child soldiers at a demobilization ceremony in Pibor, South Sudan February 19, 2015

In S. Sudan, churches struggle to keep role as trusted peacemakers

Wearing an immaculate white cassock, Catholic Bishop Paride Taban strides through the mud and tents of the Jebel displaced persons camp in South Sudan’s capital Juba on a recent Sunday.

The camp is hardly sacred ground: thousands of ethnic Nuer live here under United Nations peacekeeper protection in fear of Dinka soldiers outside. But Bishop Taban is here to conduct mass anyway.

“The church is to be with the suffering people, wherever in the world,” the 78-year-old bishop says. Read more…

Photo: Catholic Archbishop Bishop Paride Taban leads mass on November 9 in an airplane hangar at the UN’s Jebel displaced person’s camp outside Juba where thousands of ethnic Nuer have taken shelter from the war. By Jason Patinkin

Rape stands out starkly in S. Sudan war known for brutality

Many people are forced to sleep outside due to over crowding in Bentiu IDP camp, South Sudan Friday, July 4, 2014. Photo:  Matthew Abbot/AP

Every day, hundreds of women living at the United Nations base in Bentiu risk rape so they can feed their children.

Some 40,000 people shelter here from South Sudan‘s civil war, and there is not enough food or charcoal. The women of this camp have taken on the job of foraging for firewood and vegetables outside the perimeter – since men in the camp have been shot on sight by lurking local soldiers who suspect them of being militants.

But leaving the compound means the women walk into the same zone of conflict. While some UN workers are pushing to get simple food and firewood delivered, they also point out that donor aid is lagging.

“They can rape me or kill me,” says ‘Anne,’ who sells home-brewed alcohol to the soldiers outside, earning about $5 each time that she uses to buy milk and soup packets for her three children.  “But my children don’t have good food to eat so I have to go out.”  Read more…

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…

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…

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…