New Fighting Erupts In South Sudan: 60 Aid Workers Forced To Flee

South Sudan still finds themselves struggling to contain a civil war since December 2013, when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused his erstwhile deputy Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, and ten others of attempting a coup d’etat. The political showdown quickly split along ethnic lines and has drawn many tribes into a complex patchwork of conflict. The conflict takes place between Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, (SPLM), and SPLM-IO (In opposition).  On the 15th of April, new fighting erupted between government forces and the main rebel group in South Sudan. The violence forces 60 aid workers to flee as new battles erupt  in the northwestern town of Raga.  Reports have confirmed at least 14 deaths, alongside the news that the army has bombed rebel-held areas around Raga for the past two days. The United Nations, which has a large peacekeeping force in the East African nation, confirmed the latest outbreak of violence. The fighting takes takes in numerous locations, including Raga in the west of South Sudan, Waat in Jonglei to the east, and in the area of Wunkur and Tonga in the northern Upper Nile region.

In recent months, extremely distributing rhetoric has become commonplace. The leaders repeatedly plunge the country back into war. The conflict has led to ethnically targeted mass killings, rapes, torture, forced displacement, destruction of property and intense suffering. Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives in the war, with 3.5 million people displaced in a country of about 12 million. With multiple ceasefires, notably in 2014, the conflict renewed with rebel infighting in September 2016. Armed elements on both sides are deliberately targeting civilians on ethnic grounds, and resorting to torture and rape as instruments of war.

The surge in fighting has forced 60 aid workers to flee, hurting efforts to help desperate civilians in the famine-hit nation, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said on Saturday. Three UN World Food Programme workers were killed this week while trying to get to a supply warehouse amid fighting between rebel and government troops near the western city of Wau. The UN peacekeeping mission UNMISS, which has been blocked from accessing some conflict zones, said 13,500 displaced people have fled to their base near Wau this week. There have been numerous attempts to create a political space for a dialogue that would lead to reconciliation, but they have mostly faltered. For now, South Sudan edges closer to total anarchy, with no resolution in sight.

S.M. Murtasim Shah