South Sudan’s Country Profile: The Birth of a New Nation On July 9th 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan, under the terms of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement, which ended decades of civil war. As a result of the January 2011 referendum, South Sudan gained its independence after an overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted in favor of secession. The secession made South Sudan Africa’s first new nation since 1993, when Eritrea split from Ethiopia. The Republic of South Sudan became the 193rd country in the United Nations and the 54th member of the African Union. South Sudan, is endowed with many natural resources. It is composed of 10 states, and is bordered by Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda. It enjoys a very rich diversity of terrain, climate and ethnic composition. The population of South Sudan is approximately 8 million. Over sixty tribes live in South Sudan; among the largest tribes are the Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk. In contrast to the Muslim population of northern Sudan, most South Sudanese practice indigenous traditional beliefs. However, over ninety percent of the population also identify themselves as Christian. The world’s newest country faces considerable humanitarian challenges, after engaging in Africa’s longest civil war. The North-South civil war lasted over 20 years, killed more than 2.5 million people and displaced more than 5 million human beings. In the wake of independence, South Sudan was almost immediately engulfed in tribal conflict. Tensions between Sudan and South Sudan also developed over border and oil disputes. While the Comprehensive Peace Agreement paved the way for independence, it left many issues unresolved, including border demarcation, wealth-sharing, and the fate of the disputed territory of Abyei. Tensions between the North and South increased with fighting erupting in Abyei, where the Sudanese Army drove out the local Dinka inhabitants, and in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile states. A referendum to decide whether Abyei would join Sudan or South Sudan was planned in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but the referendum was never held, with negotiations stalling over voter eligibility. In May 2011, Sudan launched a full scale attack in Abyei, resulting in the displacement of 110,000 Dinka, who would have probably voted to join South Sudan. By forcibly displacing Abyei’s Dinka inhabitants, Sudan has effectively annexed Abyei. Currently the disputed region of Abyei is under Sudan’s control. The United Nations deployed 2,000 Ethiopian troops to Abyei, but Sudan continues to aid militia in the region. Despite the African Union’s efforts in mediating talks between Sudan and South Sudan, relations remain strained; both countries continue to accuse each other of supporting insurgencies, and negotiations over oil revenues are also at a deadlock. Both Sudan and South Sudan rely heavily on oil revenues to finance their economies. 75 percent of the oil lies in the South. However the pipelines, refineries, and port for shipment are in the North. In January 2012, the dispute over oil reached a crisis point when South Sudan halted oil production, after accusing Sudan of stealing its shipments. Sudan started to confiscate shipments, claiming that the shipments would make up for unpaid transit fees. Sudan’s demanded “transit fees” far exceed its actual costs. Theoretically both countries need each other; however the two nations are locked in dangerous game of brinkmanship. The demarcation of borders is another contentious problem. Regular clashes along and across the border exacerbate the humanitarian situation. Hundeds of thousands of people from the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile States of Sudan are fleeing into South Sudan. Attacks by the Sudan Air Force and militias, along with counter-attacks by the SPLA/M pose significant threats to civilians in Sudan. Historically, ethnic clashes and cattle raids were common in South Sudan; but they were conducted with spears and genocide was never the intent. They resulted from demand for high bridal dowries. The Murle and Nuer are both agro-pastoralist tribes that depend extensively on subsistence farming and cattle-herding. During the North-South civil war the tribes of southern Sudan were united by the SPLA in their common battle for independence from Sudan. However, it is now likely that traditional hostilities between southern tribes will escalate over cattle, land and grazing rights. In the months following independence, bitter ethnic tensions erupted into massacres and revenge attacks. Ethnically based militias swept the new country on killing and cattle raids in the Warrap, Unity and Jonglei States. Newly armed with machine guns and vehicles with high caliber machine guns, ethnic massacres in Jonglei state have taken on the character of genocidal massacres. The government of South Sudan has no heavily equipped army to stop these raids. In late December 2011, eight thousand Lou Nuer fighters known as the White Army entered the small Murle village of Pibor. They systematically burned huts, looted cattle, and killed men, women and children. Prior to their arrival the raiders blatantly broadcast their intent to commit genocide: “ We have decided to invade Murleland and wipe out the entire Murle tribe on the face of the earth. “ The Murle are a small tribe, a minority in their own land. The absence of South Sudanese police makes them especially vulnerable in conflicts. Both the government and the United Nations peacekeepers failed to protect the Murle tribe. The United Nations military observers watched the Nuer burn down huts and kill innocent civilians. The attacks exposed the government’s failure to protect its own citizens. The South Sudanese government has been reluctant to interfere in the feuds between the two tribes due to the fact the Lou Nuer play a crucial role in supplying the South Sudanese army. Since December 2011, Murle warriors have retaliated. There has been a significant spike in revenge attacks, between the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes. Murle fighters regrouped and have already hit several Nuer villages, killing dozens of civilians and abducting children. In response to the attacks, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, himself a Dinka, launched a program aimed at disarming civilians across the Jonglei state. Some 12,000 soldiers and police are now deployed to collect an estimated 30,000 weapons from Jonglei civilians. The UN estimates that in 2011, some 350,000 people have been displaced as result of ethnic conflicts in South Sudan. South Sudan faces many obstacles; it is one the world’s poorest, least developed nations, despite inheriting the bulk of Sudan’s oil wealth. Decades of war have left the country severely impoverished. Nearly 350,000 people have returned from Sudan to South Sudan. Most are living under deplorable conditions. Currently South Sudan faces a food emergency; the UN estimates that one third of its people are facing endemic hunger and starvation. Ethnic tensions and border disputes threaten South Sudan’s future. Genocide Watch has declared that ethnic massacres in Jonglei state constitute a Genocide Emergency. In accord with our eight stages of genocide, South Sudan is ranked at Stage 7 (Extermination).
Noting with deep concern that violence and insecurity continue to threaten the civilian population in South Sudan, Genocide Watch urges the UN Security Council to strengthen the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to authorize proactive armed assistance to the government of South Sudan to prevent the recurrence of ethnic massacres. We urge the government to engage in dialogue with local community leaders from the Nuer, Murle, Dinka, Shilluk and other tribes to negotiate procedures for conflict resolution. We urge the Government to disarm civilian militias. Genocide Watch calls upon the government to adopt development strategies that will build roads and railroads, and provide jobs to many unemployed youth. Genocide Watch is deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Sudan, and we urge the government of South Sudan to adopt an emergency plan in order prevent famine. We call upon the government, the UN, World Bank and NGO’s to convene an immediate donors’ conference to avert imminent famine and raise funds for development aid to South Sudan.
Inter-tribal clashes in the Jonglei state
Hundreds of people, including women and children are feared to have been killed and injured in the latest inter-tribal clashes in the Jonglei district. Cattle raids and revenge attacks have killed thousands of people in South Sudan. Since December 2011, there has been a spike in attacks, recently entire villages and schools were burned to the ground. Several thousand people are believed to have been killed since the latest conflicts began and an estimated 50,000 people displaced. Jonglei state governor Kuol Manyang has announced that the number of people killed in the latest series of cattle raids has risen to more than 200. The fighting involved rival groups from Jonglei state, who clashed over the border in Upper Nile state. Young men from the Murle ethnic group stormed several camps, where the rival Lou Nuer community had taken their cattle. A large number of children have been abducted during these raids which has pitted the Lou Nuer tribe against the Murle ethnic group. Both sides steal each other’s vital cattle in the raids, prompting increasingly brutal retaliations.
Following a series of such deadly raids, President Salva Kiir launched a program aimed at disarming civilians across the Jonglei state. Some 12,000 soldiers and police are deploying to collect an estimated 30,000 weapons from Jonglei civilians. South Sudan's armed forces and the UN peacekeeping mission stated that they would send more troops to Jonglei state in response to the attacks. The UN estimates that in 2011, some 350,000 people have been displaced due to the intercommunal violence in South Sudan. (Read More)
Sudan and South Sudan leaders agree basic freedoms
According to the African Union, Sudan and South Sudan have settled on a framework agreement to give their citizens basic freedoms in both nations. The framework agreement stipulates that nationals of each state would be given "freedom of residence, freedom of movement, freedom to undertake economic activity and freedom to acquire and dispose property". Two months ago, Khartoum had threatened to treat South Sudanese as foreigners from 8 April unless they obtained residency or work permits. Some 350,000 southerners have moved to South Sudan since October 2010, after decades living in the north, but some 700,000 southerners remain, according to the UN. Bitter disagreements over disputed land and oil remain unresolved. However, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is excepted to make his first visit to South Sudan since the country gained independence last July. (Read More)
South Sudan Cuts Budget after Shutting Oil Production
The government of the newly independent nation of South Sudan has cut spending by 26 percent. A month after it shut down oil production, finance minister Kosti Manibe Ngai announced that South Sudan has reduced its monthly spending from 880 million South Sudanese pounds to 650 million.
South Sudan halted oil production in late January after accusing Sudan of stealing its shipments. Sudan said it confiscated oil shipments to make up for unpaid fees. The countries have been embroiled in a dispute since the south gained independence in July, assuming control of three-quarters of the formerly united country’s output of 490,000 barrels a day.
The latest round of talks held in the Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, ended without an agreement on how much South Sudan should pay to transport its oil through a pipeline across Sudan. According to the World Bank’s country manager Laura Kullenberg, South Sudan will probably become a member of the World Bank by next month. The bank will be providing further grants aimed at building infrastructure in the South. (Read More)