Date: Thursday, 29 March 2018
In South Sudan, foreign aid groups expect food shortages to affect 85 percent of the population within the next five weeks. The aid groups are trying to make the most of the dry season to bring food supplies into South Sudan by road and then move the food to storage and distribution sites around the country. When the rainy season starts roads in many places become impassable. Emergency food can be distributed by aircraft but the rainy season often closes more primitive airfields. Air delivery is also more costly. However, the rainy season isn't the only reason supply is difficult. South Sudan has 1.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs). Many are living in makeshift camps which have no food storage facilities. The civil war also hampers food and medical efforts and frequently closes transportation routes. Is the 85 percent figure credible or a scare story? No doubt the foreign aid groups would like a donation, but given the war, the chaotic conditions, the geography and the weather, it rates as a credible scare. Decoding the food relief world's jargon helps. The relief organizations are warning that a "food crisis" already exists in several South Sudanese states. That crisis is spreading to other areas. If it continues to spread and food resupply is interrupted, by the first week of May over 80 percent of the population could experience food crisis (growing hunger and malnutrition) conditions. "Food crisis" has a professional definition: people in affected areas are marginally able to meet minimum food requirements and local food stocks are declining precipitously. Another food relief agency says by July some area could confront a "food emergency." Definition of a "food emergency": acute malnutrition is evident. People are beginning to die from disease (due to physical weakness) and hunger. UN bureaucrats use jargon like "large food consumption gaps" to describe a food emergency; that means people often go days without eating. Famine conditions are the most extreme form of acute food insecurity. "Famine" doesn't require explanation. Most food relief agencies use the word, though you will see "food catastrophe." Well, a famine is a catastrophe, one characterized by starvation, disease, death and poverty. And famine conditions already exist in isolated pockets of South Sudan. (Austin Bay)
March 27, 2018: IGAD (East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development) has asked South Africa to free South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar, who has been under house arrest in South Africa since late 2016. IGAD asked that Machar be allowed to travel to South Sudan or any country not neighboring South Sudan. The request may be an indication that IGAD is preparing for a new round of South Sudan political settlement negotiations.
March 26, 2018: South Sudan has warned Sudan that it will not tolerate a build-up of Sudanese forces near the border. South Sudan claimed the Sudan has deployed army troops and heavy military equipment along the border just north of the South Sudan town of Kuek (Northern Upper Nile state).
Qatar has agreed to invest $4 billion in Sudan's Suakin port restoration project. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has already begun restoring some of the old Ottoman-era structures on Suakin Island. Suakin is one of Africa's oldest seaports.
March 25, 2018: In South Sudan fighting has erupted in several places. The government claimed rebels attacked its forces in the northeast (Latjor state) and a government base in south (Central Equatoria state). Rebels also attacked and seized the government base in the Upper Nile state (Upper Nile state). The rebels denied the government accusations and claimed that government forces are conducting an offensive in rebel areas in an attempt to seize territory before new negotiations begin. The rebels asked that a CTSAMM (Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism) monitoring team visit Latjor state and other battle areas.
March 24, 2018: In western Sudan (Darfur) rebel group SLM-AW claimed it killed "dozens" of soldiers and pro- government militiamen in a series of battles fought just southeast of Jebel Marra (far west Darfur region). Clashes occurred in and around the Feina, Dalo, Dawa and Dolda areas (all are located in South Darfur state).
Sudan rejected accusations by Eritrea that it is supporting radical, anti-Eritrean government groups. Earlier this month Eritrea claimed that Qatar and Sudan have built a training base for Mohammed Jumma and his Eritrean Islamist fighters. Eritrea has also accused Sudan and Ethiopia of creating an anti-Eritrean force
March 21, 2018: The U.S. imposed strict economic sanctions on fifteen South Sudan oil and oil production companies because the South Sudan government is corrupt and uses oil revenues "to purchase weapons and fund irregular militias that undermine the peace, security, and stability" in South Sudan.
March 19, 2018: South Sudan is concerned that Sudan is hosting its former military chief of staff, General Paul Malong, who is now unwelcome in South Sudan because he joined the rebels.
March 16, 2018: Sudan will demobilize 6,500 former rebel fighters this year. This will take place mainly in three states; Blue Nile, South Kordofan and White Nile.
March 15, 2018: The UN has extended its South Sudan peacekeeping operation for another year. This force is authorized 17,000 troops (which includes the Regional Protection Force of 4,000). It can deploy up to 2,101 police personnel. The UN also warned South Sudan that it is considering imposing an arms embargo on the country.
March 9, 2018: In South Sudan anti-corruption groups claim that the national petroleum company, the Nile Petroleum Corporation (NilePet), has become a corrupt operation. The company is controlled by President Salva Kiir and his ruling clique. Kiir uses NilePet's oil revenues to maintain his security services and bankroll pro-government ethnic militias. The activists claim one arm of the National Security Service (NSS), the Internal Security Bureau (ISB), receives funds directly from NilePet. The ISB is involved in protecting South Sudan's oil fields, but direct funding evades political oversight and accounting. Supporting tribal militias is another matter. Critics claim all that does is complicate efforts to end local conflicts within South Sudan.
March 8, 2018: In South Sudan the UN organized peace talks in the disputed (between Sudan and South Sudan) Abyei region. This resulted in leaders of the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok tribes signed "a community peace agreement for peaceful coexistence." That isn't a peace treaty but it could be a small step toward one. Abyei is the oil-producing region on the Sudan-South Sudan border. Both Sudan and South Sudan claim it. South Sudan backs the Dinka Ngok. Sudan backs the Misseriya and evidence exists that Sudanese intelligence and security agencies once encouraged the Misseriya to attack the Dinka Ngok. Abyei is traditional Dinka Ngok territory. The Dinka Ngok are farmers. The Arabized Misseriya are semi-nomadic cattle herders and for centuries have moved through the Abyei region, where some Misseriya now live. Fighting between the two tribes led to the creation of this peace effort. There were clashes involving both tribes in early 2017. In December 2017, Misseriya leaders issued a tribal-wide edict that prohibited herdsmen from moving their cattle into Dinka Ngok areas. That decision helped make the peace conference possible.
In western Sudan (Darfur) the army RSF (Rapid Support Forces) captured Suleiman Marjan, a senior rebel commander (belonging to the SLA, or Sudan Liberation Army) in North Darfur state. Marjan was seeking new recruits.
March 7, 2018: In northeast South Sudan (Upper Nile state) a mine clearing tech working for the UN died when a landmine he was dealing with exploded. The South Sudan peace agreement specified that rebel areas would receive money for reconstruction. Former fighters would also receive job training. Very little money has been allocated for reconstruction and re-training and many of those who do receive training find that it was not adequate to do a job well.
March 5, 2018: In northeast Sudan (River Nile state) a series of clashes in a gold-producing area left one miner dead and five others injured. The most serious incident involved local Sudanese miners and a Russian mining company. The Sudanese claimed they owned the area and the security guards employed by the Russians disagreed.
March 4, 2018: In southeast Sudan (White Nile state) local officials are preparing to handle a lot more South Sudan refugees. Some 3,000 refugees have arrived in the last month. That may not seem like a lot, but 148,000 South Sudanese are already housed in camps in White Nile and a lot more are expected in the near future.
March 3, 2018: Sudan had resumed full diplomatic relations with Egypt (by send their ambassador back to Egypt). Sudan withdrew its ambassador to Egypt two months earlier because of a border dispute.
February 28, 2018: In Sudany the government released "several dozen" protestors who were arrested in January's "bread protests." The protestors were objecting to the government's decision to raise prices on bread and other staple foods because the subsidies for this were more than the government could afford.
February 27, 2018: In northwestern South Sudan the UN has relieved 46 Ghanaian peacekeepers from duty and is charging of sexually exploiting women they were ordered to protect.
February 26, 2018: South Sudan rebels confirmed that government forces had killed Felix Likambu Faustino, one of their senior commanders in south (Yei River state).