The food shortages in South Sudan are increasingly severe with some four million people threatened with starvation. Actual food supplies are one aspect of the problem. The rainy season makes supply operations more difficult. But the biggest logistics problem in South Sudan is the war. Aid convoys cannot move through South Sudan’s checkerboard war zone. Relief personnel cannot safely distribute food to the hungry in contested areas.
When will the war end? Great question. A new round of peace negotiations began on June 9 in Ethiopia. The deadline for forming a transitional government is July 9, which would be the fourth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence from Sudan. However the initial meeting dealt not with actual ground peace issues, but how additional mediators will participate in the negotiation process. Originally IGAD (East African Inter-Governmental Authority for Development) sponsored the negotiations with the African Union (AU) participating. Now we have IGAD Plus with the addition of representatives from the European Union, Great Britain, Norway, the US and China. (Austin Bay)
June 10, 2015: Sudan accused UN personnel of misleading the Security Council with regards to violence in Darfur. The UN leader recently reported (accurately) that since March 2015 violence has increased in the region. Observers with the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID, Darfur peacekeeping operation) blame Sudan for many attacks. The increase in fighting is linked to the government’s Summer offensive. Government forces and government-allied militias have carried out numerous attack on rebels the in Jebel Marra region. Sudan claims the new fighting is just another round of inter-tribal violence.
June 9, 2015: The South Sudan army claimed that it had defeated a rebel attack on key oilfields in Unity state. The army claimed it now controled the Panakuac area.
June 8, 2015: Aid organizations working in South Sudan are criticizing the UN for refusing to estimate the total number of dead. There are also reports of children suffering from stress disorders because they have witnessed murders (often of family members) and violent crimes. Refugees claim to know the location of numerous mass grave sites but official investigations have yet to be conducted.
June 6, 2015: Sudan has formed a new government. The new leadership looks a lot like the old leadership, though there are new ministers of foreign affairs and defense.
June 5, 2015: Arms trafficking researchers claim to have evidence that Sudan has supplied some South Sudanese rebels with ammunition and perhaps weapons. Part of the evidence was examination of ammunition seized by government forces from rebels operating in Jonglei state (South Sudan). Markings on small caliber ammunition indicated some of the rounds had been made in Sudan in 2014. The civil war began in December 2013. Other rounds analyzed were made in China. Some large caliber rounds were in bent and damaged tubes which indicates they were delivered by air (parachute) and the containers were damaged during the air drop.
Four South Sudan soldiers and six police were killed when fighting broke out between security forces and a group of armed tribal youth in Lakes state. Two civilians were also slain.
June 2, 2015: Sudan president Omar al Bashir has been sworn in for a new five year term. He has now ruled Sudan for 25 years. Political opponents boycotted the election which returned Bashir to power. The International Criminal Court still has warrants out for Bashir’s arrest on charge of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
SPLM-N (Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North) rebels killed six Sudanese soldiers when they attacked a convoy in South Kordofan state.
May 31, 2015: South Sudan rebels launched an attack in the town of Bazia (Wau County, Western Bahr al Ghazal state). At least two people were killed. Government security forces responded to the attack.
May 27, 2015: Some 47,500 tons of sorghum from the U.S. has arrived by shipat Port Sudan (Sudan). Sorghum is a staple food in the region. Most of this shipment will go to the Darfur region.
May 25, 215: South Sudanese rebels are continuing their offensives in Unity state and Upper Nile state. In Upper Nile state, observers believe the rebels intend to take control of the Paloch oil field. If they cannot control it, the rebels want to stop production from the field. Despite the war, Paloch is still pumping and South Sudan’s government depends on oil revenues for at least 90 percent of its revenues.
May 23, 2015: The African Union (AU) reiterated its support for an arms embargo on South Sudan’s warring parties. The AU said both sides have violated the cessation of hostilities agreement.
May 22, 205: The SPLM-N (Sudan People Liberation Movement/North) rebels claimed it has defeated a Sudan governbment attack in the town of Kalgo (Blue Nile state). The SPLM-N said that this was the second time within the last month that its forces had defeated a government attack on Kalgo.
May 21, 2015: South Sudan soldiers captured the town of Leer (Unity state). The government now claims that its forces control 95 percent of Unity state.
May 19, 2015: Diplomats in sub-Saharan Africa have begun publicly commenting on the South Sudan leadership, both government and rebel. The term “impunity” has begun to crop up -- this means that the leaders of the government and the rebels are not held accountable for their actions. Soldiers on both sides have committed atrocities. Unfortunately, some diplomats appear to have found a way to blame the U.S. at least a little bit. One source said that the warring parties ignored U.S. efforts to end the conflict, despite a decade of U.S. aid and diplomatic effort in the region. Actually, the warring parties are ignoring more than that. Serious U.S. aid efforts in Sudan (and now South Sudan as well) began at least 12 years ago. In the 1990s and until 2005 (when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed) the U.S. was very involved in diplomacy intended to end the Sudan civil war. Even a massive intervention in South Sudan will not stop the two well-armed factions from fighting one another. The U.S. will also be participating in the next round of peace negotiations.
May 18, 2015: South Sudanese rebels claimed to have captured the town of Akako (Upper Nile state). The town is near the Paloch oil field.