Tag Archives: Sudan People’s Liberation Army

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

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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…

In South Sudan, strife looms in few peaceful places left

A woman grinds millet, near two tanks, while children watch in Leer, Unity State, South Sudan July 15, 2014. Andreea Campeanu/REUTERS

 

As South Sudan‘s civil war drags into a seventh month, President Salva Kiir faces new political and military challenges in parts of the young nation that until now were spared violence.

Violence flared again this week in the lucrative and powerful oil-producing states in the east and north, where bitter fighting raged this winter and spring. The new tensions threaten to expand what already seems an intractable conflict.

With peace talks in Ethiopia postponed indefinitely amid new rebel demands over who should participate, rebel and government forces engaged this week near Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, despite two cease-fires.

Meanwhile, a debate in the national capital of Juba over federal vs. state powers in South Sudan reached such a boiling point that the International Crisis Group, a well-known advocacy NGO, called for an emergency UN Security Council session. 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…

Quick peace eludes S. Sudan leaders, despite Army victories

Women and children stand next to their tented shelters in the grounds of a church where thousands have sought refuge during the recent fighting in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin/AP

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Nairobi, Kenya

The month-old civil conflict in South Sudan has claimed some 10,000 lives, with major towns razed to the ground and half a million people displaced. Amid the fighting, negotiators have been holding peace talks in neighboring Ethiopia.

In recent days government forces, supported by Ugandan troops, apparently wrested two key towns, Bor and Malakal (both important to the oil industry) from the control of rebels. Yet despite initial hopes, there are signs that a quick peace may be further away, not closer, in the world’s newest nation. One reason is a lack of command and control over an ill-disciplined military that may be reverting to its roots as a militia.  Read more…