Sudan is at the brink of a nationwide fuel shortage as Beja ethnic protesters in the country's east have for weeks blocked roads and oil arteries—including the critical pipeline that pumps crude from South Sudan to the Port Sudan terminal on the Red Sea, and a second that brings imported petroleum products from the terminal into the country. The High Council of Beja Nazirs & Independent Chieftains is demanding cancellation of the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement, asserting that the Beja people were excluded from the negotiations. Shortages of fuel and basic goods have sparked large counter-protests against the blockades. (ArgusMedia, DefenceWeb, Dabanga)
Close to 80,000 people have been displaced in Tambura County, in South Sudan's Western Equatoria, as a result of fighting between government forces and the opposition SPLA-IO–even though both sides are supposed to be forming a new unified army. A delay to security sector reform continues to set back implementation of a 2018 peace agreement. The Pretoria-based Institute of Security Studies has warned that South Sudan's "militarized political culture" could see tensions "boiling over"—threatening the national unity government. Faction fighting within SPLA-IO has added to the insecurity. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme is suspending aid to more than 100,000 displaced people in Wau, Juba, and Bor beginning in October—part of a three-month "prioritization exercise" driven by a finance crunch. The fall in funding is despite the country experiencing the highest rate of food insecurity since independence in 2011, with more than 60% of South Sudanese going hungry. Months of flooding has added to that toll.
Two prominent activists in South Sudan—Augustino Ting Mayai of the local Sudd Institute and Kuel Aguer Kuel, former governor of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State—were arrested Aug. 2 for calling for a peaceful uprising to end the country's state of "political bankruptcy." They were part of a coalition of civil society groups that declared South Sudan has "had enough" of a decade of failed leadership, marked by civil war and widespread hunger. The coalition called for the resignation of both President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, arch-rivals now uneasy bedfellows in a unity government.
Juba, the capital of South Sudan, saw street protests last week after popular singer Trisha "Cee" Cosmas was killed when the bici-taxi she was riding in was struck by a tanker-truck on March 29. Using the usual jaundiced terminology, the local Radio Tamazuj writes that the "bodaboda [bici-taxi] carrying the musician collided with a truck..." Far more likely that the truck ran down the bodaboda. Indeed, local Eye Radio states that "a water tank lost control and ran over a boda-boda at Mobile Roundabout." The Radio Tamazuj account adds: "Trisha's family, friends, and fans say she died due to reckless driving and poor services at the Juba Teaching Hospital, the country's main referral hospital where she was left unattended for more than four hours until her death." Three companions of Trisha Cee were also injured.
In a report published Feb. 19, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan found that over two years after the signing of a peace agreement officially ending a seven-year civil war, the country is still experiencing extreme levels of violence. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of armed struggle. But civil war erupted in the new nation in December 2013 following President Salva Kiir's dismissal of then-Vice President Riek Machar—respectively belonging to the largest rival ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer. The war ended in 2020, after claiming over 400,000 lives.
President Salva Kiir declared a state of emergency Aug. 13 in South Sudan's central Jonglei and Pibor regions following flooding and communal violence. More than 200,000 people have been forced from their homes as water levels rose by 1.5 meters in some areas after heavy rains. Flooding has also affected neighboring Upper Nile and Unity states. The government has called on humanitarian agencies to provide immediate aid, but inter-communal unrest in Jonglei and Pibor—in which aid workers have been killed—will complicate operations. The conflict between Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic militias has displaced 100,000 people since the beginning of the year. They will miss the current planting season—deepening their food insecurity. Pre-positioned food stocks were also looted in the violence. South Sudan is in the lean period before the November harvest, and "emergency" levels of food need are widespread. The US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network is anticipating their highest "catastrophe" level in some areas of Jonglei affected by fighting, and says "urgent and sustained food assistance" will be needed even after the harvest.
One percent of the world's population has been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution to seek safety either somewhere within their country or in another country, according to the latest Global Trends report released June 18 by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. As more people became displaced than at any time since UNHCR began issuing its annual study, fewer were able to return home—or even build sustainable lives in another country. "We are witnessing a changed reality in that forced displacement nowadays is not only vastly more widespread but is simply no longer a short-term and temporary phenomenon," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
Thousands of people are fleeing ongoing inter-communal clashes in South Sudan's Jonglei State and the newly created Greater Pibor Administrative Area—the latest challenge to efforts to cement peace following last month's formation of a unity government. Médecins Sans Frontières reported an influx of 83 wounded patients last week and said it had treated 45 gunshot wounds in Pibor, as fighting between Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic militias continued. "We are very worried about the extreme level of violence that some of the patients have been subjected to," said Claudio Miglietta, MSF head of mission in South Sudan. "This is not just a matter of providing medical care, it is also a protection concern, with some of the most vulnerable, including young children and pregnant women, being targeted."