South Sudan has struggled with cyclical inter-communal violence for decades. Notably, a flare-up of heavy fighting in Jonglei state began in December 2011. Ethnic groups – the Luo-Neur and Murle – have a history of rivalry over access to water and grazing land. Both groups have easy access to arms, and youth from both communities have perpetrated retributive justice for past grievances.
South Sudan’s army and police are unable to provide adequate security to prevent this violence, which displaced an estimated 140,000 people in Jonglei state from late 2011 through February 2012.
Rebel militias have been operating in South Sudan for years, beginning with the country’s early civil wars and carrying through to the present. With South Sudan’s independence, President Salva Kiir offered amnesty to the rebels, indicating that he intended to actively pursue reconciliation as a means for dealing with the various rebel elements. Despite these efforts, rebel forces continue to operate and most claim to be fighting against the corrupt regime of the SPLM.
It is likely that the government of Sudan is supporting at least some of the militias operating in South Sudan. Senior SPLM officials from Juba have expressed their belief that the Sudanese government is using all means available to destabilize the new state of South Sudan.
According to the Terrorist Risk Index of 2011, South Sudan is among the top five countries in the world where terrorist attacks are most likely to occur. The Lord’s Resistance Army is also a threat in South Sudan.
As fighting continues along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, thousands of Sudanese are forced to flee to South Sudan. These refugees are streaming across the border into Upper Nile and Unity, two Southern states that border the conflict ridden Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. According to the United Nations, as of May 2012, 105,000 refugees are in Upper Nile, and 45,000 refugees have settled in Unity State. In Upper Nile, there are insufficient sources of safe drinking water in the state’s refugee camps. According to a report by the Famine Early Warning System
Network, food security is at a "crisis" level in Upper Nile and Unity State. This means that thousands of refugees do not have access to food and, consequently, face malnutrition.
Moreover, fighting along the border also threatens humanitarian efforts in South Sudan. In April, Sudanese air strikes hit some regions in Unity State. These acts of violence slow down humanitarian work because aid agencies cannot gain access to refugee camps due to security concerns.
Information provided by our partners at The Enough Project.
Reports on South Sudan