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.
  • 17 August 2017 – The number of refugees fleeing South Sudan to Uganda due to violence reaches one million
  • 21 December 2017 – South Sudanese factions sign a new ceasefire agreement as well as agreeing to provide humanitarian aid to regions affected by the civil war
  • 7 February 2018 – More than 300 child soldiers are released from captivity by armed forces in South Sudan in a “laying down guns” ceremony
  • 27 June 2018 – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir signs a peace treaty with his former Vice President to end the civil war
  • 30 June 2018 – Violent attacks breakout mere hours after the peace treaty went into effect. Each side blames the other for instigating.
  • 12 September 2018 – In the Ethiopian capital, a new peace agreement is drawn up between President Salva Kiir and rebel factions. However, the agreement does not address many of the root causes of the conflict, and so is not expected to last.
  • 31 October 2018 – Rebel leader Riek Machar returns to South Sudan for the first time since he fled the country more than two years ago. He travels to Juba to demonstrate the strength of the peace agreement.

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