In the wake of renewed violence in the contested Abyei region that lies between Sudan and South Sudan, a new Enough Project policy alert warns that intercommunal attacks with unclear degrees of state support are risking a conflagration within Abyei that threatens to drag both countries back into conflict. Looming Crisis: Open Wounds in Abyei Increase Risk of New War urges UNISFA to facilitate demilitarization of the area and calls on national, regional, and international stakeholders to move to resolve the final status of Abyei.
Abyei is home to the Ngok Dinka semi-sedentary communities, and the nomadic Misseriya migrate across the area annually to graze their cattle and access water sources. Due to long-term grievances that the promised referendum will never occur and Abyei has been abandoned, the Ngok Dinka are now challenging the Misseriya’s traditional, annual migration south ahead of the rainy season. The current violence is threatening the livelihood of the Misseriya and exacerbating already high tensions.
Since early February, attacks on communities and cattle have been reported in the villages of Makir, Athony, Marial Achak, Todac, and Dungop, killing dozens and causing hundreds of civilians to flee Abyei. The policy alert states that state and non-state actors have been active in and around the Abyei area, including 660 forces from South Sudan’s SPLA, 150 Sudanese police officers, and non-state actors and rebel groups loyal to Khartoum and Juba.
Maiwen Dot Pheot, Enough Research Associate and author of the policy alert, says,
“These political maneuvers come at a very expensive cost for civilians in the Abyei area. The Ngok Dinka people who were gradually returning to their areas for the last two years are now being displaced again. On the other hand, the Misseriya nomads will face challenges moving southward due to fears of reprisal attacks by the Ngok Dinka. The international community must redouble efforts to help local community leaders and governments in Juba and Khartoum to find a lasting solution to this potential powder keg."
In order to prevent the escalation of violence, the policy alert calls for the demilitarization of the region, which Sudan and South Sudan committed to three years ago. However, while demilitarization could quell future violence, a lasting solution to Abyei's conflict depends on determining the final status of the area. Therefore, the policy brief calls on Sudan and South Sudan to resume talks on Abyei and urges international stakeholders, including the African Union Peace and Security Council, to push for a lasting solution to the Abyei conflict based on the AUHIP’s proposal on Abyei. Only through the resolution of Abyei's political status will the people of the area be able to return to peaceful coexistence.
In Abyei, a small but strategically important disputed area on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, rising inter-communal tensions have resulted in a marked escalation in conflict in recent weeks.
New Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) imagery shows at least 10 huts were burned since February 9, 2014 in Duk Payuel, in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. The area is home to the John Dau Foundation’s Duk Lost Boys Clinic and another project supported by former Lost Boy Joseph Akol Makeer: the African Heart American Soul Foundation's orphanage. Read More »
South Sudan’s Jan. 23 ceasefire was supposed to put an end to more than a month of violence that killed roughly 10,000 people, displaced more than 800,000 others, and threatened to unravel the fragile social fabric of a fledgling state that has been independent for just 31 months. Read More »
Recent fighting in South Sudan -- marked by evident war crimes and crimes against humanity -- must be resolved through an inclusive peace process, according to an Enough Project field dispatch authored by Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast.
South Sudan Field Dispatch: Peace Still Possible Despite Apparent War Crimes
Washington, D.C.— Recent fighting in South Sudan -- marked by evident war crimes and crimes against humanity -- must be resolved through an inclusive peace process, according to a newly released Enough Project field dispatch authored by Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast. The report, based on interviews in South Sudan and site visits to places where mass atrocities appear to have occurred, documents the impact of fighting between government and opposition forces and allied militias.
The report, “Peace Must Come Soon”, documents the aftermath of violence in the towns of Bor and Juba, with eyewitness accounts from displaced civilians and others on the scene. Heavy fighting and targeted attacks have displaced over 900,000 people, and the International Crisis Group estimates that over ten thousand have been killed since fighting broke out in December.
Now, the bulk of the fighting is taking place in the Greater Upper Nile region, including in Unity, Jonglei,and Upper Nile states, comprising all of South Sudan’s significant oilfields. While the conflict was sparked by political disputes, the report states that the mobilization of forces by politicians on the basis of ethnicity has fueled and deepened inter-communal conflict. Recruitment of soldiers, including a large number of child soldiers, has continued even after the now-collapsed cessation of hostilities agreement, with a mass mobilization of Nuer militia in Greater Upper Nile and the launch of the government’s recruitment drive throughout South Sudan.
Report author John Prendergast says:
“Though the warring parties disagree strongly about the initial spark for the war, it is clear that actions taken by both is prolonging it. Mass recruitment, often on the basis of ethnicity, the use of child soldiers, ethnic-based targeting, and other actions are deepening the divides between communities and making reconciliation more difficult. It is urgent that this war ends at the negotiating table in Addis and not on the battlefield.”
As negotiations stall in Addis Ababa, the report argues for the preparation of a more inclusive peace process that addresses governance, accountability and reconciliation, security sector reform, and regional interests, citing the crucial role of civil society, political parties and regional partners in consultations and decision-making. Additionally, the report emphasizes the U.S. and international community’s role in supporting negotiations by deploying incentives and pressures to leverage the warring parties toward peace.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
Escalating violence, displacement, and new political developments in the areas along Sudan’s periphery—Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile—are going largely unnoticed as international attention focuses on violence in South Sudan.
WASHINGTON — As South Sudan faces its worst violence since independence, a new Enough Project report urges policymakers to remain vigilant about new developments in Sudan, as armed conflict worsens in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile regions and risks going unnoticed. Senior Enough Project Advisor Omer Ismail and Enough Project Editor/Researcher Jacinth Planer's new report “Forgotten Wars: Sudan’s Periphery Smolders with Focus on South Sudan,” cautions policymakers against a potential binary perspective on conflict in the two Sudans, with the potential for conflict in one area to draw focus from deteriorating conditions elsewhere.
Amid escalating violence across South Sudan, to the north, South Kordofan has seen its highest number of bombings and civilian casualties in two years. Air strikes in Blue Nile state have increased in scale and deadliness with the use of new tactics and military equipment. Some 200,000 people are displaced from South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and in 2013 alone over 400,000 Darfuri people were displaced from their homes with heavy air strikes. As the numbers of displaced South Sudanese soar, so too are numbers of those displaced from conflict zones in Sudan. Humanitarian conditions are deteriorating rapidly for large numbers of displaced people who are stranded, with limited access to humanitarian aid, and flanked by violence on multiple sides, leaving them especially vulnerable.
Omer Ismail, Enough Project Advisor and co-author of the report, said:
“Civilians fleeing violence are vulnerable and caught between expanding war zones between Sudan and South Sudan. A disconnected perspective on one area—to the exclusion of others—cannot work. Core drivers of violence must be addressed in both countries, or the wars will continue with dangerous and destabilizing consequences.”
Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst Akshaya Kumar, said:
"Maintaining focus on both Sudan and South Sudan at the same time remains essential. South Sudan has signed a cessation of hostilities and Sudan's President Bashir has spoken of peace talks with rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. There may be signs of hope, but the hardest diplomacy is ahead. Both countries merit more sustained attention."
John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-Founder, said:
"Ground attacks have been similarly violent in South Sudan and across the border, but the difference in Sudan is the aerial terror sown by the Sudanese Air Forces. As parties in South Sudan negotiate and monitor ceasefire agreements, our new report highlights a major government offensive in the Nuba Mountains."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, South Sudan’s government and opposition forces signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Following weeks of intense mediated talks, this agreement is just the first step on South Sudan's long road to a durable peace. Violence in South Sudan began in late December, and negotiations had been deadlocked over the issue of 11 political detainees, whom opposition forces, led by former Vice President Riek Machar, wanted to be freed before discussing a ceasefire.
John Prendergast, Enough Project Co- Founder, says:
"Though important, the signing is just a small first step on a long road to peace. If an inclusive peace process is not constructed that seeks to address root causes, the conflict will continue, with deadly consequences."
Akshaya Kumar, Enough Project Sudan and South Sudan analyst, says:
"In South Sudan, the hardest negotiations are still ahead. Even if all combatants lay down their arms as a result of today's agreement - which is far from guaranteed - a sustainable resolution to the crisis will require an inclusive national dialogue around the country's governance framework, a commitment to accountability and security sector reform."
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go towww.enoughproject.org.