Date: Thursday, 04 October 2018
Recent evidence collected in South Sudan indicates violence and suffering associated with the civil war have taken over 350,000 lives. U.S. government experts put the figure at 382,000. This far exceeds other estimates, which range from 20,000 to 100,000 dead. In 2016 the UN estimated 50,000 people had died from violence or starvation and exposure resulting from violence. However, the 350,000+ figure is disputed by a number of people in the region. Death tolls in anarchic situations are always iffy – stressing always. Accuracy takes time and analysis. The 350,000 to 382,000 figures very likely deal in “excess deaths” – the number of deaths beyond what would be the expected number if there were no civil war. This kind of statistical analysis entails numerous assumptions, including estimates of people killed by malnutrition and disease related to armed conflict and extrapolations based on the number of refugees and internally displaced. The truth is, no one knows what the death toll really is, but in South Sudan’s case 100,000 is a reasonable estimate given the chaos and number of refugees who have fled the country. On a per capita basis the South Sudan civil war (2013-18) had higher population losses than the Syrian civil war (2011-18). (Austin Bay)
October 3, 2018: Based on the history of South Sudan most observers, especially those inside the country of 13 million, feel that it’s a matter of “when not if” that the current peace deal collapses. Despite the threats to cut foreign aid and the collapse of the economy and any semblance of government; the tribal loyalties and paranoia of senior government leaders remains. The best example of this is the bitter rivalry of two men. President Kiir belongs to the dominant Dinka tribe (15 percent of the population) while Machar was a Nuer (10 percent), the largest of over fifty smaller tribes that accused the Dinka of taking more than their fair share of the goodies. South Sudan is a poor country but it does have some oil (five billion barrels, worth nearly $300 billion at current prices). Getting access to oil money often encourages political rivals to cooperate so that the oil can be pumped, shipped and sold. Yet South Sudan, even with oil income, is still an economic disaster.
South Sudan was created after years of savage fighting and enormous bloodshed. The civil war that created South Sudan from Sudan in 2011 began in the early 1990s and left over two million dead. After two years of independence the civil war began because of tribal rivalries and what turned out to be paranoia about what other tribal leaders were planning. This was a big disappointment to most South Sudanese, who had hoped that victory in the civil war would bring out the best in the first generation of South Sudan politicians. There was a peace deal in 2015 that really never took and was gone by 2016. In June 2017 there was a ceasefire deal that collapsed in less than a day. The current peace agreement was signed on August 8th and two months later is fraying but not yet falling apart. That may be attributed to the growing food shortages and increasing misery in a nation that has lost much of its infrastructure and modern services (health, education, communication, electricity). At the moment there is greater incentive to restore basic services than to settle grudges and tribal feuds.
September 30, 2018: Sudan approved a UN sponsored delivery of humanitarian aid to then rebel-controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. UN aid officials in Sudan will coordinate the aid logistics with Sudanese security forces and the SPLM-N rebels. The SPLM-N recently insisted that 20 percent of humanitarian aid enter via Ethiopia (in other words, enter without any control by the Sudan government).
September 28, 2018: South Sudan ordered the release of all political prisoners as required by the latest peace agreement. The government also directed the Army to observe the June ceasefire agreement.
September 25, 2018: In western South Sudan (Wau state) government officials accused rebels of attacking a convoy escorting internally displaced civilians.
September 24, 2018: In South Sudan the president appointed an internationally sanctioned general as South Sudan’s deputy defense minister. The UN has imposed personal sanctions on General Malek Reuben Riak Rengu. He is accused of blocking humanitarian aid access to civilians and arming the Bul Nuer youth tribal militia so they could attack rebels.
In northern South Sudan (Liech state) soldiers clashed with a rebel force. The government accused a rebel group of attacking the government troops manning positions in three small villages.
September 23, 2018: In eastern Sudan (Kassala state) medical personnel asked the government to declare the area a disaster zone. Officials report that at least 11,000 people are suffering from serious viral infections, including chikungunya and dengue fever. Kassala state borders Eritrea. Chikungunya is a viral hemorrhagic fever transmitted by mosquitoes.
September 15, 2018: In southern South Sudan (Yei River state) ceasefire monitors are investigating an alleged attack by government forces on rebel positions. The rebels claim that solders attacked them after the September 12 peace agreement was signed. The rebels claim they killed 17 government soldiers.
September 12, 2018: In South Sudan the president (Salva Kiir) and rebel leader (Riek Machar) signed another peace deal that formally conclude the civil war that began in December 2013. Or at least that’s what the leaders claim it does. The document was signed in Ethiopia. Mediators called the agreement the “final final deal.”
September 10, 2018: Sudanese dictator Omar al Bashir dissolved Sudan’s government. He hopes the dissolution will blunt widespread disgust with Sudan’s declining economy. But like many authoritarians, he used the current crisis to consolidate his own hold on power. He reduced the number of government ministries from 31 to 21. Sudan needs oil revenues and most of the oil now lies in South Sudan. This is one reason Sudan is trying to stabilize South Sudan. When South Sudan resumes pumping oil, Sudan will receive pipeline transmission fees. (Austin Bay)
September 9, 2018: Sudan and IGAD (East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) are saying they will make certain that the South Sudan government and South Sudanese rebels adhere to the latest peace agreement, which will be signed within the next week.