What is going on in South Sudan?


by Peter Run, MercatorNet


Another Rwanda seems to be in the making, but ethnicity is not the dominant factor.


Over the past few weeks, crisis has gripped the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, after an internal political conflict spilled into violence which has left thousands dead.



So far, there have been reports of mass graves, as well as one instance where rebel forces killed UN peacekeepers that would not let them get to the frightened civilians behind the gates of a UN compound.



These images are reminiscent of scenes from Hotel Rwanda. The conflict in South Sudan already shows patterns that we have seen in mass atrocities elsewhere: armed militias operating outside traditional military chains of command; forcible recruitment of civilians; and intimidation of the United Nations. It seems that the nation is falling apart, but what is actually behind the violence?



Timeline of events



Violence first broke out at the compound of South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on December 15 last year between soldiers loyal to him and those loyal to his former deputy, Riek Machar, who attempted to overthrow Kiir.



Within hours, the United Nations Mission in Juba became a refugee camp and its head, Hilde Johnson, was forced to express grave concerns. By December 17, the UN Security Council already had something coherent to say. A week later, it agreed to a peacekeeping reinforcement, deployable within 48 hours.



The UN Security Council’s reaction has been appropriately swift as has that of South Sudan’s African neighbours – Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, which are currently mediating a ceasefire deal and a roadmap to end the conflict in Ethiopia.



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