In Brief

South Sudan: A Peace with a Vengeance

Instead of finally subsiding after decades, war continues to spread in South Sudan. The current peace agreement itself is even playing a role. A guest editorial by Tim Glawion on ZEIT ONLINE.

Rebel fighters walk in a rebel controlled territory in Upper Nile State.
© Reuters / Goran Tomasevic
Rebel fighters walk in a rebel controlled territory in Upper Nile State.
© Reuters / Goran Tomasevic

Peace. That was the hope following 40 years of war. The international community cheered as the people of South Sudan voted nearly unanimously in support of the referendum on their independence. Five years later, it’s not looking good: war has returned and history is repeating itself.

Last year, a peace agreement between government forces and rebel troops was meant to bring an end to the killing, but the situation has only gone from bad to worse. Government troops and militias are resorting to ever more drastic means – murdering, raping, and driving out civilian populations. The civil war in the world’s youngest country has already left more than 50,000 dead. A quarter of the population has been displaced due to the conflict. Government soldiers ransacked a refugee camp as the camp’s would-be protectors from the United Nations stood idly by. More than half of the country’s people are in danger of starvation – the grain price has shot up by five times over the past year. Parliament is a puppet institution, annual inflation is at 200%, and the South Sudanese pound today is worth less than one-tenth of its prewar value. The worst news, though, is that war is continuing to spread.

An official ceasefire between the two biggest opponents, President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, has been in effect for months. But while troops in one location are being pulled back from the front lines and it looks as if a rapprochement is on the horizon, in another location the conflict is flaring up again: armed shepherds are fighting farmers, Dinka are fighting Zande, and government troops are fighting rebel forces. How could it have gotten this bad?

Read the entire article (German) at ZEIT ONLINE.


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