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Genocide Emergency: South Sudan

Before 2005, South Sudan was the victim of a twenty-year genocide by the Sudanese army and Arab militias that took over two million lives. The 2005 “Comprehensive Peace Agreement” provided a path to independence, but it was not comprehensive at all, since it ignored the raging Sudanese genocides in Darfur, the Nuba mountains, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan.

The 2005 agreement also left the status of the oil rich Abyei region at the Sudan-South Sudan border to be settled by a referendum. Before a vote could be held, the Sudanese army invaded Abyei. 100,000 of Abyei’s Dinka residents were violently driven out. Abyei’s oil resources were seized and depleted. South Sudan is still rich in oil, but it must export it through the Greater Nile Oil Pipeline to Port Sudan in Sudan.

South Sudan became independent in 2011. The U.S., U.K., and U.N. backed independence without adequate safeguards for civilians. The U.N. sent in a peacekeeping force with a weak mandate and terms of engagement that elevated self-protection of U.N. peacekeeping troops over protection of South Sudanese civilians.

Two leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and Deputy-President Riek Machar, a Nuer, each backed by their own ethnic militias, took power. They fell out in a power struggle in 2013. The country has had genocide ever since. Massacres have killed over 400,000 civilians. All sides have committed war crimes, massive crimes against humanity, and genocide. 1.8 million South Sudanese are internally displaced, and 1.6 million are refugees.

Salva Kiir and Riek Machar again agreed to share power in February 2020. But inter-ethnic violence continues. In early 2020, ethnic massacres resumed in the Bor region in Jonglei state. These attacks, in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic, overwhelmed humanitarian workers. In May 2020 the International Organization for Migration estimated that 18,343 individuals from 3,168 households have been displaced within Jonglei. In June, President Kiir formed a committee to resolve this conflict between Dinka Bor, the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes in Jonglei but civilians are still caught in the crossfire.

The Dinka-Nuer ethnic conflict is still on-going. There has been no progress toward integrating and disarming the country’s ethnic army and militias. South Sudan is not a state-party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The ICC has no jurisdiction to charge Salva Kiir and Riek Machar with their war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. South Sudan is led by corrupt war criminals.

Due to the shakey nature of every peace agreement between the Dinka President and the Nuer Vice President and the on-going killing of civilians targeted because of their ethnicity, Genocide Watch considers South Sudan to be at Stage 9: Extermination.

Genocide Watch’s Recommendations:

• The South Sudanese Army and Nuer militias should be disarmed and demobilized.

• Churches should be engaged in peace negotiations between ethnic leaders.

• South Sudan should create a mixed national/international tribunal to try war criminals.

• A new transitional government should be elected and protected by U.N./A.U. forces.

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