War Crises in South Sudan

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By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

The foreboding events of genocide compelled eighty thousand South Sudanese, to leave their homes, beginning 2013. The refugee population, has made Sudan the second largest host of South Sudanese, in the region.

Since the eruption of civil war in 2013, peace has remained absent for over five years. Various forces in the region have been accused of killing villagers, burning homes and stealing food. The Bentiu massacre in 2013 was regarded by The Economist as the worst massacre in the civil war. Since then, six more major war offensives have happened in South Sudan.

The journalists have often observed the buildings in various South Sudan cities without iron roofs. The doors and windows of these homes have often been taken away by the looters for their own means.

Humanitarian aid groups have estimated that around $1.72 billion is required to save the 5.1 million population. Save The Children, a UK non-profit agency, has sponsored one of the programs. As there is very limited access to markets and farms, acute food shortage is in the offing. It is believed that 2018 will be worse than 2017, in the civil war, as people don't have enough food to eat.

Despite the presence of seventeen thousand UN peacekeepers in the South Sudan, a total of 1.9 million people have been internally displaced and 2,300 children have been killed. The internal displacement figures stood at three hundred fifty five thousand in 2014 alone.

Many South Sudanese have often lived inside tents that have been damaged by the baking sun. Around 19,000 child soldiers are associated with the rebel groups. Recruited child soldiers have received a hundred lashes for not waking up at time and have been detained forcefully. Some children have been sold for twenty cows. In other words, a scenario like this has happened only during the Rwandan genocide in Africa.

Independent UN experts have reported to the UN security council that South Sudan’s government has spent millions of dollars on weapons. It had been one of the reasons why the country descended into a serious famine-ridden condition.

As the rebels have been using hunger and sexual violence as a weapon against the population, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been appealing globally to support the local population. The officials working for the UN agency believe that large quantities of weapons are being smuggled into South Sudan through Kenya and Uganda.

In 2015, despite a peace agreement, war spread to stable regions such as the Equatorias and Western Bahr e Ghazal. A ceasefire announced on 26th December, 2016 just ended some hours later and fighting has continued since then.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, but a little over two years later its leaders began a fresh civil war pitting President Salva Kiir against his former deputy Riek Machar. It seems that the war weariness in the country seems constant and threatening.

One of the most challenging things during the ongoing war has been road transport, which is difficult to endeavour. Drivers often sleep in remote locations. The journeys often take several days and cars are not allowed to travel during the night. Due to bad conditions of roads, cars and trucks often face mechanical problems and tyre punctures.

The Logistics Cluster has facilitated the biggest inter-agency convoy in 2017. It has been made to reduce reliance on costly airlifts. Around 99 vehicles have transported cargos on behalf of nine organisations. They have en-route, on the Western corridor, with multiple final destination points. This corridor is extremely important, to the humanitarian community, as it provides access to a number of locations. This Logistics Cluster will only close during the rainy season.

In Ethiopian capital of Adis Ababa, the IGAD (Inter-Government Authority On Development) sponsored peace talks have been resumed after rejected the procrastination of the South Sudanese government.

The South Sudanese government has been demanding more representation, but the current rule of the IGAD states that the government can have only 12 seats. The resolution committee is urging all parties to desist from breaking the cease-fire. They are stressing for a revised and realistic timeline and a schedule towards general elections in the country at the end of the interim period.

The United States is set to announce an arms embargo against South Sudan, in an effort to end the country’s civil war and humanitarian crises. Previously, the Obama administration had urged the UN to back an arms embargo against South Sudan.

During the final quarter of 2017, UNOCHA released South Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SSHF) allocated US$11.1 million to 12 core pipeline projects. The funding enabled procurement of life-saving supplies dry season assistance and ensuring continuity of distributions during the wet season.

To quell the violence in South Sudan, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel with the participation of UNISFA, in Addis Ababa, have put forward a proposal on a 2000 km joint border, known as Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) between Sudan and South Sudan. The plan will also include border monitoring and regulatory controls.

Preventing the famine and ending the civil war is a daunting task, but if powerful nations exert a positive influence, things might improve. It seems the aid can come in late.

Before also, in 2011, when drought struck, in the Horn of Africa, humanitarian aid came late, too. If a response comes late, time and again, the conditions might aggravate to fatal proportions. An ambiguity arises, in these situations, because if peace-loving countries make promises for a better world, then why does an action fail, and, if a preventive action happens, why does that preventive action get delayed?


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