The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) has begun a new Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program with the support UNMIS (UN Mission in Sudan, the south Sudan peacekeeping operation). The program will initially involve 35,000 former Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) fighters, many of whom are disabled. A similar DDR program in northern Sudan began in February 2009. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) mandated a DDR process in both the north and the south. DDR amounts to a massive veterans program. Assisting disabled vets who cannot work is one part of the program. Another is teaching skills (often agricultural and mechanical maintenance skills) to a generation of men who had no opportunity to learn them -- they were soldiers involved in a long-running civil war. All told the entire DDR operation may involve as many as 180,000 former fighters. So far slightly over 4,000 former fighters have begun the DDR process in northern Sudan.
June 14, 2009: Fighters from the Jikany Nuer tribe attacked a river convoy of 27 boats and barges near the town of Nasr (on a tributary of the White Nile). The craft were carrying emergency food aid. The convoy had an escort of SPLA soldiers. The attack is another in what appears to be an escalating series of ethnic and clan battles in South Sudan. In mid-May Jikany Nuer battled with ethnic Lou Nuer fighters in Upper Nile state. In March and April the Lou Nuer fought with the Murle in Jonglei state. Estimates on the casualties caused by these ethnic clashes vary wildly, but at least 1000 people have been killed in the scattered but intense ethnic fighting. The clashes in mid-May involved charges of cattle rustling.
June 12, 2009: The UN said that the Sudan national government will let four of the 13 aid groups expelled from Darfur earlier this year return to Darfur. However, after the UN announcement a national government spokesman said the UN statement was false. In the aftermath of the exchange it turned out that the four aid groups had agreed to change the names of their operations in Sudan, so that they are no longer the same organizations that were expelled -- except they are, with names slightly altered. Welcome to the world of diplomacy.
June 4, 2009: Some 130,000 South Sudanese have been displaced by Lords Resistance Army (LRA) attacks since the Congo, South Sudan, and Uganda launched a joint offensive against LRA enclaves in the Congo and along the Congo-Sudan border. Again, this is an estimate, but it is based in part on requests for emergency food aid from isolated villages and towns in South Sudan.
June 3, 2009: The national government now claims that "suspected Israeli air raids" in January and February 2009 killed 119 people. A Sudan Defense Ministry report delivered to parliament said the raids killed 56 smugglers and 63 "other people" (likely Somali and Ethiopian migrants) the smugglers were taking to Egypt. News reports said the air strikes hit smuggling convoys that were bringing weapons through Sudan and Egypt to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Sudan government has said that no weapons were involved. Apparently the attacks took place in northeastern Sudan near the Sudan-Egypt border.
June 2, 2009: The "battle over the census" in Sudan continues. The GOSS has now given its own count. The GOSS says that 8.2 million people live in the ten states (in some cases, parts of states) that are within the south's claimed administrative area.
A spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) claimed that national government aircraft bombed the town of Furawiya in West Darfur. The JEM statement accused the government of bombing water wells -- meaning the government was targeting facilities essential to the survival of the local population.