Update on South Sudan Crisis
(18th May, 2014)
The five months conflict in South Sudan has engulfed the whole country into a tribal civil war. It started in December 15th, 2013 as political difference within the SPLM ruling part. The government called it an attempted coup but it was actually a political difference that arose over party meetings that sparked the fight. The President wants to eliminate all his political critics in hope of becoming a full dictator.
Unfortunately, the fight turned quickly into tribal conflict between Dinka and Nuer the two biggest tribes in the country. In 16th-17th December, 2013 thousands of Nuer were targeted and killed in Juba by the government army and the conflict steadily escalated to other parts of the country where Dinka ethnic group were targeted and killed. Subsequently, more than 20,000 people have died and more than a million displaced from their original villages and towns.
The UN have estimated that 200,000 people have run for refuge to the neighboring countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda) and more than 4.9 million will face famine in the next months to come. With lack of protection by Juba government, inability of UN troops to protect people and absence of greater protection from international community, it is likely that hundreds of thousands of people will die whether directly through targeted killing or famine.
On 9th May, 2014 a ceasefire has been agreed between the government of President Salva Kiir (Dinka) and his former deputy Riek Machar (Nuer), who leads armed resistance movement. However military clashes are still continuing in number of places across the country which indicates it is already a shaky agreement. Tribal tension, political and economic unrest are still very high.
IPDs and Refugees (Based on recent UN data)
- The number of displaced people (IDPs) within South Sudan is estimated at 916,900.
- The number of South Sudanese refugees who fled to the neighboring countries is about 309,000 (60,000 in Sudan; 95,000 in Ethiopia; 12,000 in Uganda and 34,000 in Kenya).
- 80,000 Sudanese refugees in Unity State and 126,000 in Upper Nile were in South Sudan before the conflict and are now trapped between the Sudan conflict and South Sudan conflict.
Responsively, UN and Aid organizations have responded and operations are going on mainly through airdrops and airlifts because supply routes have been heavily affected. In these areas, there are poor services of health, nutrition, shelter and sanitation. The situation in South Sudan can be described as catastrophic and a real humanitarian crisis which need international attention and engagement.
Effects of the Current Conflict
The conflict which started in December, 2013 has exploded into political crisis and culminated in armed struggle. The country is divided between the government and opposition forces. The conflict has killed over twenty thousand people and displaced a million. The war has also led to destruction of properties and razed to ashes the little infrastructure that the young nation had put in place in the last eight years. Seven states of South Sudan have been affected by the conflict. Out of these seven states, three states have been completely destroyed as they changed hands several times between the rebels and government forces. A lot of women, children, elderly and the youth have been massacred on both sides. Basically the Dinka and Nuer tribes are caught in unending tribal feuds.
The Uganda military intervention and its commitment to fight alongside South Sudan Army against the South Sudan Armed Resistance make the situation in the ground more complicated and grow threat to achievement of peace. It is likely that the continuous presence of Uganda army in South Sudan may encourage the regionalization of the conflict.
Beyond the human suffering and destruction as consequences of conflict, an even larger threat looms. Again people of South Sudan are subjected to enormous hardships and unwanted challenges.
Effect on Sudanese Reformed Churches (SRC)
SRC has been greatly affected by this current political situation in the country. Seven churches out of 16 churches have been affected. It is also likely that another three churches will be affected if the war continues. Many of our church members in Juba (110), Malakal (73), Bor (36) and Bentiu (64) are living in United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) protection camps for their safety and protection. Living condition in those UN protection sites is miserable as health, water, sanitation and hygiene are concerned. 316 members have run to refuge in the neighboring countries (Sudan 85; Ethiopia 110; Kenya 53; Uganda 65).
In term of death we have lost 27 members plus 2 pastors, 5 evangelists, 4 elders and 1 deacon. Our members in the areas affected by war have lost all their property and their houses burnt to ashes. The humanitarian situation of our members in those areas is bad and it will worse if the violence continues.
Three church buildings (made from local materials) have been completely burnt down. Church properties such as chairs, forms, pulpits, cupboards, tables, sound systems, keyboards and etc have been completely looted by government armed forces. In term of infrastructure our six year labor has been pulled down greatly. Further our five year strategic plan has been disrupted. Psychologically, as church we are deeply traumatized by this merciless violence. Spiritually, we are encouraged that God is in control even at this difficult time that we are in.
Political settlement of South Sudan conflict being mediated by IGAD in Addis Ababa.
- Diaconal aid for the needy in South Sudan particularly SRC members who are in UNMISS compounds across the country.
- SRC to play her evangelistic and prophetic role at this war time situation in South Sudan.
- Real Reconciliation and peace between Dinka and Nuer and other South Sudan ethnic groups.
- Advocacy and social justice.