Now in its fifth year, South Sudan’s current conflict has displaced 4.5 million people—the same number of southern Sudanese displaced during the entire three-decade Sudan civil war.
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As the four-year conflict in South Sudan continues unabated, the country’s humanitarian situation has reached emergency levels and continues to worsen. Those who have fled their homes relay stories of atrocities, including unlawful killings, mass rapes, torture, arbitrary detentions, and looting and burning of property. A population movement of this magnitude, with majorities of some ethnic groups displaced, has the potential to cause massive and lasting damage to the country’s social fabric, as well as its viability as a sovereign state.
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate as the conflict persists unabated. Four years of widespread violence have left 6 million people—half the population—acutely food insecure.
Proposed justice measures in South Sudan—including the Hybrid Court—can be pursued despite disruptions in the implementation of the peace agreement.
South Sudanese renditions fall afoul of international law and pose legal risks for security sector professionals implicated.
South Sudan’s police force, the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) faces numerous challenges as it seeks to provide internal security across the counties. The SSNPS’ size, force structure, command and control, and current deployment is difficult to ascertain since the ongoing conflict has led both to the integration of previous militia members and to widespread defections. Training for the SSNPS has been marred by abuse and sexual violence scandals. Finally, the force suffers from cronyism in promotions, reportedly widespread substance abuse, and a culture of impunity. A clearer delineation of the police and the army’s roles is required. Donor efforts to address similar problems in the Army have relegated the police to a secondary priority.
While much of East Africa suffers from food shortages due to drought, in South Sudan, it is conflict, rather than lack of rain, that has been the cause of a widespread humanitarian disaster.
Ethnically based violence, rape, and hate speech attributed to the government warrant investigation, according to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
A spike in political violence since mid-2016 has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in South Sudan since its decades-long civil war with Sudan.
Despite having committed to a peace agreement, South Sudan’s warring actors have shown no sign of following through with any of the requirements therein. In fact, the violence and crimes against civilians has escalated. One reason for the inability to follow through with the agreement is that those committing the human rights violations and abuses are the country’s political and military leaders.
Three years of civil war have left South Sudan on the cusp of full-scale genocide. The only remaining path to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity is through an international transitional administration, writes Africa Center Director Kate Almquist Knopf in a new report.
“South Sudan is not on the brink of state failure. South Sudan is not in the process of failing. South Sudan has failed,” Africa Center Director Kate Almquist Knopf testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the crisis in South Sudan.