South Sudan Civil War


“I was born into Sudan’s civil war, and before I
could read or write, I was using an AK47.”

– Ger Duany




               South Sudan


               12 million (pre-war)


               Estimates between 50,000 and                             300,000 since 2013

      Refugees/Displaced People:

               4 million (half internally displaced,                     half fled South Sudan)

      Number of UN Peacekeepers:



              Government forces representing the                 majority Dinka population and                            rebel Nuer forces. 17,000 child                              soldiers have become involved                              on all sides



The world’s newest country, South Sudan, has been embroiled in a civil war since December 2013. The conflict erupted along ethnic lines after President Salva Kiir (a Dinka, the county’s ethic majority), removed Vice-President Reik Machar (a Nuer, the largest minority group). Formed after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, the civilian population of this young republic are overwhelmingly the victims of this conflict, suffering the most significant refugee crisis in Africa. Famine and ethnic cleansing has displaced a third of the population.

                 Key Actors:

  • Government forces loyal to President Kiir and the Dinka tribe (the largest ethnic group in South Sudan), they stand accused of targeting civilian groups of all non-Dinka minority groups.
  • Rebel Nuer forces, loyal to former Vice-President Machar
  • Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country African trade bloc, is mediating peace talks between parties
  • The United Nations has a significant presence in South Sudan, through the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)  –  Approximately 15,991 peacekeepers.
  • The United States, The Trump White House, compared with previous administrations, has been indifferent to South Sudan. It was a lead facilitator of the country’s independence, providing diplomatic support and humanitarian aid. Since then, both the US and Europe have imposed sanctions on commanders from both sides


  • January, 2011 – the people of South Sudan vote to become independent of Sudan, with independence day declared on July 9th
  • 18 August, 2011 – More than 600 people are killed in the Uror massacre in an armed tribal attack in Jonglei state
  • 23 December, 2011 to 4 January, 2012 – The Pibor Massacre (Estimates of between 900 and 3000 people killed)
  • December, 2013 – Civil War ignites after President Kiir dismisses his entire cabinet and Nuer Vice-President Machar in July. The UN Security Council authorizes the rapid deployment of approximately 6,000 security forces, in addition to 7,600 peacekeepers already in the country, to aid in nation-building efforts.
  • January, 2014 – a ceasefire orchestrated by IGAD lasts only a few days before fighting resumes
  • April, 2014 – Hundreds are killed in the Bentiu massacre.
  • May, 2014 – UN Security Council votes to shift the mission’s mandate from nation-building to civilian protection, authorizing UN troops to use force.
  • April, 2015 – civilians are raped and killed in huge numbers as the government launches an offensive on rebel-held Unity state, with 100,000 displaced
  • April, 2016 – Reik Machar returns to Jaba after months in exile and is again sworn in as Vice-President. However, more conflict follows when he is sacked in July and returns to exile, inflaming the conflict.
  • December, 2016 – UN Commission on Human Rights Declares that ethnic cleansing is taking place across the country
  • February, 2017the UN declares a man-made famine in the republic caused by the conflict and a collapse of economic infrastructure.
  • May, 2017 – President Kiir declares unilateral ceasefire and launches national dialogue.
  • CurrentlyThe conflict rages on and continues to fuel the worst refugee crisis in Africa. Famine grips the country and peace talks show little sign of ending the fighting.

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