By Cleora Broens
South Sudan, an independent country since 2011, has once again become a country of conflict. The conflict began when an argument took place between the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit and, now former, Vice President Riek Machar.
On the 15th December 2013, a meeting of the National Liberation Council took place in Nyakuron. Riek Machar attempted to veto the meeting and accused President Salva Kiir of implementing non democratic policies. President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Riek Machar denied this. President Salva Kiir ordered the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) Major General, Marial Ciennoung, to disarm the troops. After disarming the SPLM soldiers of Dinka and Nuer ethnicities, Marial commanded the Dinka members to rearm themselves. This made the Nuer ethnicity, question this command, which resulted in them rearming themselves. Dinka soldiers of the SPLM attacked and targeted civilians of Nuer ethnicity, in the capital city of Juba.
1.5 million South Sudanese civilians have had to vacate their homes. Many deaths have occurred due to starvation. In the 1900s, soldiers of the Sudanese government, deliberately starved civilians, if the civilians would not join in their movement. The same tactic is being used in the current conflict, the only difference is that the conflict is focused on ethnic rivalry. Humanitarian organisations, along with the United Nations, have asserted that South Sudan currently has the ‘most overwhelming food crisis globally’, where approximately 4 million civilians are suffering from ‘inadequate diet’.
Another tactic is the physical abuse of civilians. Roughly 100 000 civilians are living in camps, set up by the United Nations Mission Into South Sudan (UNMISS). The UNMISS have been of much assistance in providing aid, but problems still persist. At a United Nations base camp in Bor, the capital of Jonglei, a violent mob of youths, from the Dinka tribe arrived at the base camp, under the guise of a peaceful demonstration. The amount of people killed were 30, comprising mostly of South Sudanese civilians.
There haven’t been any resolutions to South Sudan’s conflict, since 2013. The quarrel still takes place between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. In December 2013, Riek Machar went underground. He established a resistance group, comprising of SPLM Nuer soldiers, as well the South Sudanese Army personel. Riek Machar stated that he wants a democratic government, where free elections can take place. He has further stated that he will be running for presidency in 2015. President Salva Kiir is still waging war in South Sudan.
Cleora Andrea Broens is a human rights activist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
She holds a Social Science degree from Monash University Australia, majoring in International Relations, as well as Communication and Media Studies.
She tweets @cabro13