Sudan: Is It Safe?

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October 30, 2018: South Sudan president (Salva Kiir) officially gave amnesty to the main rebel leader (and former South Sudan vice president) Riek Machar and all rebel groups back in August. This followed the signing of a new power-sharing agreement between the government and the rebels. But Machar refuses to return to the capital and take up his new/old job as vice-president because there is not a lot of peace and Machar still does not trust Kiir. There is supposed to be a major ceremony in the capital on November 6 to commemorate the peace deal and so far Machar does not plan to be there because there is no peace out in the countryside and the capital is not safe for rebel leaders. The government is spending over $5 million on the November 6 celebration.

Major foreign aid providers declared that violence is once again blocking critical food and medical aid shipments in South Sudan. Some of the violence is outright warfare, another sign that the ceasefire agreement isn’t holding. The situation is worst in western South Sudan (Western Bahr el Ghazal region) and in the south (Central Equatoria state). In one particular area in the west (Wau State) 25 percent of the population faces acute malnutrition.

October 29, 2018: Sudan confirmed that Russian PMCs (private military contractors) have a long-term contract to support the Sudanese armed forces. And are training security forces in Sudan. In July the Russian foreign ministry said Russian contractors are working with local security forces.

October 25, 2018: - South Sudan has released five rebel prisoners of war. The latest civil war peace deal, signed in September, required the release. According to rebel sources, none of the individuals released are high ranking rebel officials.

October 24, 2018: South Sudanese president Salva Kiir is encouraging the two competing factions in the Sudan SPLM-N rebels to end their internal conflict and negotiate with Sudan. In turn Sudan Kiir for his diplomatic effort.

South Sudanese security forces are confronting accusations that they committed several atrocities in the far west (Wau state) against civilians in the period June through August 2018. On specific atrocity occurred June 12 near a rebel position south of the town of Wau. The allegations are based on detailed interviews with over 80 survivors. The interviews took place in September 2018. This follows a very typical pattern for reports on incidents in sub-Saharan Africa. It often takes weeks if not months to get detailed information on events in isolated areas.

October 22, 2018: The UN is threatening to sanction SLA (Sudan Liberation Army) leader Abdul Wahid Elnur because he refuses to participate in the Darfur peace process. The SLA-Abdul Wahid faction has vowed to continue to resist Sudanese forces. Both the SLA-AW and Sudanese security forces have violated the humanitarian ceasefire in the western and southern areas of Darfur. The ceasefire was declared on September 20 and supposed to extend to December 18.

October 21, 2018: The East African IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) ceasefire monitoring group has been unable to get enough ceasefire monitors into South Sudan to investigate and verify all the claims of ceasefire violations. Logistics is obviously a problem. South Sudan is large and there are few roads. Intra-factional fighting also erupts. For example, in northeast South Sudan (Upper Nile state) and the far south (Yei River state) smaller rebel factions complain that SPLM-IO, the main rebel organization, was attacking and trying to destroy or absorb the smaller factions. There were no IGAD monitors available to verify the claims.

October 18, 2018: In southwest South Sudan (Western Equatoria state), UN investigators found that some SPLM-IO rebels participated in mass (nearly a thousand) abductions and rape of women between April and August 2018. Females were raped. Male abductees were forced to be porters and in some cases forced to become militiamen. The UN investigators believe three SPLM-IO commanders bear primary responsibility for the crimes.

October 17, 2018: In Sudan, a senior Army general said that his country wants to cooperate more closely with the United States on counter-terrorism and help promote security throughout Africa. Sudan wants the U.S. to completely remove political and economic sanctions and fully normalize diplomatic relations between Sudan and the United States. This is a huge change from the 1990s when Al Qaeda used Sudan as a base for operations in Africa.

October 15, 2018: The hybrid UN-African Union Darfur peacekeeping operation reports that in Darfur the overall security situation has improved. In July 2018 the UN voted to reduce the size of the peacekeeping operation. However, returning refugees who fled the region after the war began there in 2003 are confronting violent circumstances and continue to face “systematic attacks.” In some cases violence has broken out among returnees, especially returning pastoralists (herders) and farmers who are trying to rebuild their farms.

October 12, 2018: According to the UN as of September 30 there are 300,137 Refugees inside South Sudan. In Addition, South Sudan has 1.84 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 197,996 of those IDPs are housed in Protection of Civilians sites protected peacekeepers.

October 10, 2018: The suspected death toll in South Sudan’s civil war continues to rise with the current estimates at 320,000 dead. Some estimates are as high as 382,000.

October 7, 2018: In South Sudan inmates at a detention center in the capital overpowered their guards and seized part of the NSS (South Sudan’s intelligence agency) Blue House headquarters building. An Internal Security Bureau officer who was under arrest led the seizure. The prisoners claimed that they were objecting to systematic injustice and oppression, to include illegal arrests, illegal trials and torture by the government. Negotiators ended the standoff.

October 6, 2018: Sudan has approved a UN-directed operation to deliver aid to people in rebel-controlled regions of the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile states). The aid will go to 17 “localities” (the buzzword) in the two states. Three are controlled by the rebel SPLM-N. Up until 2017 Sudan routinely rejected requests for humanitarian aid deliveries into rebel (SLPM-N) controlled areas.

 

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