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Thread: South Sudan: 3 Indian peacekeepers killed in attack on UN compound

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    I think it is the only one in the world
    There are also mutual consular representations between Djibouti and Somaliland since last year - mostly based on economic relations, there are quite a couple private investors from Djibouti active in developing the neighboring country.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    I suspect there is quite a bit of 'under the radar' stuff going on there.
    It's not that much under the radar if you dig in the right places - such as this:
    EUCAP Nestor and EU Naval Force Welcome Somaliland Representatives | Eunavfor

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    I'm sorry to have only now noticed this sad news. My condolences to the families and friends and may the dead rest finally in peace. Present Arms!
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    You stood against great odds.

    Rest in Peace.
    And on the sixth day, God created the Field Artillery...

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    Present Arms.

    God Bless

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    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
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  6. #21
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    I meant to keep people up to date with this, but got distracted. Melbourne is one of the places where a Sth Sudanese community has grown up over the last 15 years. I see them regularly around my area (they are hard to miss - bloody tall!) so I feel some odd connection with this.

    A bit of background on the conflict for an American audience. I would add that this didn't start out as a strictly ethnic conflict but it has evolved that way.

    South Sudan's crisis began just two weeks ago and it already has observers warning that it could lead to civil war. Fighting has killed an estimated 1000 people and sent 121,600 fleeing from their homes. International peacekeepers are preparing for the worst; some have been killed and a number of them, including four US troops, have been injured.

    What's happening in South Sudan is complicated and can be difficult to follow; understanding how it got to be this way can be even tougher. Here, then, are the most basic answers to your most basic questions. First, a disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive or definitive account of South Sudan and its history — just some background, written so that anyone can understand it.

    1. What is South Sudan?

    South Sudan is the world's newest country. It's located in Central Africa, is about the size of France and has a population of about 11 million people. South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, has a 27 per cent literacy rate and is so underdeveloped that it has only about 55 kilometres of paved road. Its economy is driven by oil exports.

    South Sudan declared independence from the rest of Sudan on July 9, 2011. At the time, it was considered a huge success for the world. But its two years as a sovereign state have been disastrous. This latest crisis is just another part of the country's struggle to stand on its own.

    2. Why are people in South Sudan killing each other?

    The violence started on December 15, when troops in the presidential guard started fighting against one another, in what is a depressingly accurate metaphor for South Sudan's problems. That fighting quickly spread and is now engulfing entire swathes of the country.

    If that seems like a strange way for a potential civil war to start, it will make more sense once you hear the backstory. In July, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, fired his vice president, Riek Machar. The two were more rivals than partners; Kiir thought that Machar was gunning for his job. Here's the really important thing: Kiir and Machar are from different ethnic groups, and in South Sudan ethnic groups are really important. Kiir is ethnic Dinka, the largest of South Sudan's many ethnic groups. Machar is Nuer, the country's second-largest group.

    Tension between the Dinka and the Nuer goes way back in South Sudan, and the political rivalry between the groups' two most powerful members, Kiir and Machar, always had the potential to become an ethnic conflict. It did on December 15, when members of the presidential guard who are Dinka tried to disarm members of the guard who are Nuer, maybe because they feared the Nuer would try to stage a coup. (Kiir later said the fighting had started because Machar had tried to stage a coup, although evidence for this is thin.)

    The fighting between Dinka and Nuer presidential guards very quickly spread across the country. The main antagonists in the fighting are a group of Nuer called the White Army. (Some reports say the group got its name because fighters smeared themselves with white ash to protect themselves from insects.) The White Army militants have seized territory, including some oil-producing land, and may or may not be marching on the city of Bor.

    3. How could that one little incident spark such a big conflict?

    When fighting spread from a few presidential guards to entire areas of South Sudan, we saw something that has happened before in sub-Saharan Africa. Political leaders and grass-roots militants alike defaulted from their national identity to their ethnic identity. Political rivalries became ethnic conflicts. Competing against the other group became more attractive than cooperating.

    Since they won independence, it's been hard for South Sudan's ethnic groups to get along. Southerners don't have that common enemy uniting them anymore. Worse, they don't have a strong sense of belonging to a shared nation. People have been identifying by ethnicity for so long that they often still do. Another big problem is that South Sudan is extremely poor but has lots of oil; that makes it very tempting for ethnic groups to compete for the scarce resources they so badly need.

    If this were, say, Iceland, then a contentious rivalry between the nation's two leading politicians would probably be seen as just political infighting, or at most perhaps a clashing of political parties or ideologies. But Kiir and Machar are the two most powerful people from their ethnic groups in a country where ethnic grouping is very important. So a fight between those two men was bound to exacerbate tension between their respective ethnic groups, which also have lots of other people in positions of power. And they have militias.

    4. I thought giving South Sudan independence was supposed to stop ethnic fighting. Why didn't it?

    The tragedy of South Sudan is that the same forces that helped it win independence also set it up for this conflict.

    People in southern Sudan spent decades fighting for autonomy from the north. This led them to organise themselves by their tribe or ethnicity, since they had no national identity to align with. It also led them to form militias. Those militias, sometimes organized by tribe or ethnicity, came together as the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. The SPLM has since become South Sudan's national army.

    When the south's ethnic groups were fighting on the same side, against the north, they mostly got along OK. But, in 1991, the SPLM split along ethnic lines. Some fighters who were ethnic Nuer formed their own semi-official breakaway group, the White Army. The White Army attacked Dinka civilians in the city of Bor, killing 2000.

    That fighting stopped, but the White Army has stuck around, in part because some Nuer fear they will not be treated fairly by the Dinka, who are more numerous and who hold the country's presidency.

    Today, the White Army is leading much of the fighting against the government. The White Army took up arms in the apparent belief that Kiir's government was turning against the Nuer, and perhaps also because they saw Kiir going after Machar, who does not lead the White Army but has long been associated with it.

    Remember that many Nuer split off from the SPLM in 1991; while they've since reconciled, the SPLM is officially commanded by Kiir, who is Dinka. And Kiir has called Machar, the country's most important Nuer, a traitor. It was almost inevitable that when Kiir turned against Machar many Nuer would think that he was seeking to marginalize their entire tribe. That's how the political fight could turning into an ethnic conflict.

    5. How did South Sudan become independent, anyway?

    This question, and to some extent the conflict itself, goes back to European colonialism and the artificial borders it imposed on Africans. As the British expanded across the continent, in the 1890s they began incorporating Sudan into the empire. In part to prevent neighbouring Egypt from claiming northern Sudan as its own, the British lumped the Sudan's north and south together. The two parts of the country are very different, though: The north is mostly Arab and Muslim, while the south is made up of ethnic sub-Saharan Africans who are Christian or Animist.

    When colonialism ended and Sudan declared independence in 1956, it kept its unwieldy colonial borders, with the capital Khartoum in the Arab-Muslim north. You can guess what happened next: The northern-dominated government treated the black-skinned southerners badly; southerners formed militias; and then came the civil wars. Yes, wars, plural: The first began in 1955, before Sudan even declared independence, and ended in 1972 with greater autonomy for the south. The second civil war started in 1983, when the government in Khartoum revoked much of the south's autonomy and southerners formed rebel groups to fight the north.

    The second civil war finally ended in 2005 the longest-running conflict in Africa with a peace accord that promised the south it could hold a referendum for independence. In early 2011, 98.8 per cent of southern voters said they wanted to secede from the north, and a few months later they got it.

    There were two important outside factors that made independence happen. First, the United States played a key role supporting the south's demand for independence (more on this later). Second, the Sudanese government was loathed by much of the world for its human rights abuses and its affiliation with terrorist groups; this made it easier to build international pressure against Khartoum.

    6. I remember South Sudan's independence being treated as a huge success. Was that not true?

    Yes, it was a big success, promising southern Sudanese a reprieve from decades of war and the autonomy they'd long desired. It went peacefully enough, which was great, and it seemed like a promising sign for the world's ability to resolve terrible conflicts. But things have really gone south since then.

    South Sudan endured violent ethnic conflicts (sometimes with the South Sudanese government part of the problem), fought a brief war with Khartoum in which South Sudan was far from blameless and even briefly shut off oil production to punish the north. In May 2012, less than a year after it had helped establish South Sudan as an independent country, the United Nations threatened it with economic sanctions for its bad behaviour.

    South Sudan's government, meanwhile, has been plagued by infighting and widespread allegations of official corruption.

    Poverty and poor governance are big problems for South Sudan. But the biggest of all may be the fact that the country has never really resolved its ethnic rivalries. Until this most-basic problem can be solved, there will always be the possibility for another conflict.

    7. What does this all have to do with Darfur? Anything?

    On the surface, not really. Darfur is a part of the Republic of Sudan, not South Sudan, and so is not involved in South Sudan's conflict.

    But the Darfur conflict that killed so many civilians in the mid-2000s, and which the United States labelled a genocide, is not totally separate from what's happening in South Sudan. The SPLM also fought in Darfur, on behalf of people there who wanted autonomy from the Khartoum government. More significantly, both South Sudan and Darfur were huge political and popular causes in Western countries, and especially in the United States.

    The two causes fed into one another; US political and religious groups had been advocating on behalf of South Sudan since the late 1980s, long before Americans started thinking about Darfur. But the "Save Darfur" campaign was much, much bigger. Outrage over Darfur made it easier to pressure Khartoum to allow South Sudan's independence referendum; it also focused popular and political support within the United States, which proved crucial.

    Not everyone thinks this is a good thing. Some South Sudan-watchers say that the years of activism have convinced Americans that Khartoum is the "bad guy," which is not necessarily false, so much as it sets up South Sudan as the "good guy" or underdog. And that can make it harder, they warn, to hold South Sudan's government accountable for its many missteps, ultimately worsening the country's crisis.

    8. I skipped to the bottom. What happens next?

    It's not clear how long this conflict will go; as it becomes more decentralised, it gets more dangerous and tougher to end. The South Sudanese government has agreed to meet for peace talks.

    But the really important thing isn't this latest conflict but South Sudan's deeper issues. As African Union official Abdul Mohammed and Tufts University's Alex de Waal wrote on Monday in a guest op-ed in The Washington Post, we "should not be content with patching together a ruling coalition" between rival ethnic groups. "A power-sharing formula could become just another division of the spoils, and elections could become another exercise in ethnic division," they warned.

    Washington Post
    Read more: Eight things you need to know about South Sudan
    Last edited by Bigfella; 01 Jan 14, at 02:41.


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  7. #22
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    As predicted earlier, regional leaders have been quick to move on this. The leaders of Kenya & Ethiopia flew into Juba around Christmas to attempt to get a settlement. There was a bigger meeting of regional leaders in Nairobi subsequently, and now the AU has pitched in.

    The African Union has threatened targeted sanctions against those inciting the violence in South Sudan and hampering international efforts to negotiate an end to the two-week outburst of fighting that risks drawing in the wider region.

    At a meeting in Gambia in West Africa, the AU said late on Monday it was dismayed by the bloodletting that has already killed more than a thousand people in the world's youngest country.

    "(Council) expresses its intention to take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite violence, including along ethnic lines, continue hostilities (and) undermine the envisaged inclusive dialogue," the AU's Peace and Security Council said.

    On Tuesday South Sudanese troops fought rebels believed to be loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar in the flashpoint town of Bor.

    "We are fighting the rebels now," Mayor of Bor Nhial Majak Nhial told Reuters news agency.

    South Sudan's neighbours have given the warring factions until the end of Tuesday to lay down their arms and begin negotiations - but so far there has been no sign of the hostilities ending.

    The violence erupted on December 15 when fighting broke out among a group of soldiers in the capital, Juba, but quickly spread to more than half the country.

    Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Monday east African nations had agreed to move in and defeat rebel leader Riek Machar if he rejected a government ceasefire offer.

    There was no immediate confirmation of the pact from other nations.

    Even so, Museveni's words demonstrated the scale of regional worry over the fighting, often along ethnic lines between Machar's Nuer group and President Salva Kiir's Dinka, that has spread to South Sudan's oil fields, forcing a cut in output.
    South Sudan rebels recapture key town of Bor - Africa - Al Jazeera English


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  8. #23
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    This isn't just a Sudanese issue. During the long civil war fighting spilled over into Uganda as Kampala helped Sth Sudan & the government in Khartoum responded by backing the infamous Lord's Revolutionary Army. Clearly Uganda wants to stop this before it starts again

    JUBA, South Sudan — As the South Sudanese military warned that a rebel column of armed youths had advanced toward the city of Bor on Monday, the president of neighboring Uganda threatened to intervene if the rebels kept fighting, introducing the possibility of a broader regional conflict.


    Col. Philip Aguer, a South Sudanese military spokesman, said rebel forces known as the White Army were 18 miles from Bor on Monday afternoon and had fought skirmishes with government troops on Sunday. He said the advance of the rebel forces had sent civilians fleeing across the White Nile by the hundreds as fighters burned homes in their path.

    In the battles that have gripped this young nation this month, Bor was briefly captured by rebels and then quickly retaken by the military, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. “The S.P.L.A. is ready to defend the town and protect themselves,” Colonel Aguer said.

    With troops marching on Bor, last week’s effort by East African leaders to push for a negotiated cease-fire to the conflict seemed to have failed, at least for the time being. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on Monday called on regional nations to intervene to “defeat” the rebel forces if they did not agree to a cease-fire.

    Fighting began on Dec. 15 with clashes between soldiers from the Republican Guard. President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of trying to mount a coup. Mr. Machar fled into hiding and has been demanding Mr. Kiir’s resignation. More than 1,000 people have been killed in the ensuing clashes, including large numbers of civilians, and close to 180,000 people have been displaced over the two weeks of conflict.

    “We gave Riek Machar four days to respond, and if he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us — that is what we agreed in Nairobi,” Mr. Museveni told reporters, referring to a meeting of East African leaders in the Kenyan capital last week.

    That raised the prospect of an escalation or even cross-border spillover, adding to a worrying picture for a region already suffering from bloodshed in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Mr. Museveni and Mr. Kiir have been close for years, and the Uganda People’s Defense Force provided significant support to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army during the civil war against the Sudanese government in Khartoum, analysts said.

    “The U.P.D.F. has always been a very good friend of the S.P.L.A.,” said Mareike Schomerus, a researcher on South Sudan at the London School of Economics. “Some would say without U.P.D.F. the S.P.L.A. would never have been able to fight the war in that way.”

    Mr. Machar has said Ugandan aircraft have bombed rebel positions, an assertion Uganda has denied.

    “That remains speculative, and I have no idea that we’ve engaged in such an action at all,” said Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for the Ugandan military. “But our briefing is very clear. Should we be attacked, our soldiers have a right to defend themselves.”

    There have been conflicting reports about the advance of the White Army, called that because of the white ash that fighters rub onto their skin. South Sudan’s information minister said last week that 25,000 Nuer youths had gathered; others have put the number at a few thousand, saying that elders from their community had persuaded many to turn back.

    The United Nations confirmed through a helicopter surveillance flight Sunday that a group was marching toward Bor, saying in a statement that it was “extremely concerned” about the reports. Many of the fleeing civilians have crossed the river into a neighboring state. The Nuer fighters were carrying AK-47s and had several heavy machine guns and 30 vehicles and trucks, Colonel Aguer said.

    South Sudanese officials said Mr. Machar controlled the White Army, which he has denied. “This is a group of loyalists to Riek Machar,” Colonel Aguer said. He added that Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State, where the two sides have clashed in recent days, was calm and under the control of the military. Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, was also peaceful but under rebel control, he said.

    The question is what kind of casualties might occur if the South Sudanese Army, alone or with assistance, tried to retake places like Bentiu that lie in rebel hands.

    “Regional armies need to assure that their use of force stays firmly within international law, and that civilians are under no circumstances targeted,” Ms. Schomerus said. “It is right now unclear which actors are committing what kind of atrocities — but what is already clear is that civilians are not being sufficiently protected by anybody, and quite possibly even targeted.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/wo...udan.html?_r=0


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  9. #24
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    It is hard to know if this will bear fruit, but the combination of Uganda's threat to intervene and the AU getting involved might just be enough. Stopping this is going to be tough. Laying the ground work to stop it recurring & create political culture rather than one where reversion to arms is always a threat will be harder. Much harder.

    Both sides in the conflict in South Sudan have agreed to meet for peace talks in neighbouring Ethiopia, after a fortnight of ethnic violence that has left more than 1,000 people dead.

    The country has been rocked over the past two weeks by fierce fighting between government forces and those loyal to his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

    South Sudan's government has accused Mr Machar of leading a coup attempt on December 15 that erupted into spiralling violence.

    Mr Machar denies that charge. He claims the violence began when presidential guards from Salva Kiir's majority Dinka tribe attempted to disarm guards from Mr Machar's Nuer ethnic group.

    Until now, Mr Machar had refused to negotiate until his political allies were freed from jail, but Uganda has threatened to intervene with military action unless the rebels began talks.

    Mr Machar is sending a three-person team of senior leaders to Ethiopia but says he is not yet ready for face-to-face talks with president Kiir.

    "I will follow later, once the negotiations have resulted in a cessation of hostilities. It depends on if and when that is achieved," Mr Machar said.

    The US special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, says the commitment by both sides to attend peace talks is "a first but very important step to achieving a cessation of hostilities".

    "I will continue to remain engaged with the government of South Sudan and all the parties and partners who are working to try and achieve a peaceful outcome to this conflict," he said.

    Violence continues

    Despite the move towards peace talks, there was no immediate confirmation from either side or sign of an end to ethnic fighting that has ravaged the country.

    Mr Machar says troops loyal to him recaptured the town of Bor on Tuesday, some 200 kilometres north of the capital Juba.

    "Our forces are still marching on Juba, there is no cessation of hostilities yet," he said, speaking by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location inside South Sudan.

    "That is what the delegation is going to Addis Ababa to discuss and to negotiate."

    South Sudan has been plagued by corruption, ethnic tension and a political power struggle since it broke away from Sudan in 2011, after decades of war in a fight for independence.

    More than 120,000 people are believed to have been displaced as a result of the recent fighting.

    AFP
    South Sudan rivals agree to peace talks as fighting continues - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


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  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    It is hard to know if this will bear fruit, but the combination of Uganda's threat to intervene and the AU getting involved might just be enough. Stopping this is going to be tough. Laying the ground work to stop it recurring & create political culture rather than one where reversion to arms is always a threat will be harder. Much harder.
    Sadly it has taken long for the south to begin to unravel. Are there other tribes who hold significant power in the south? I remember reading about the south in the past and of the large number of rebel groups loosely banded together in fighting Khartoum. The southerns are clearly used to living isolated and localised. The complete lack of infrastructure makes economic reform dangerously slow and sounds like a recipe for a failed state, never able to get itself off the ground.

    Can Uganda be considered to act as an impartial third party?

  11. #26
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    Sadly it has taken long for the south to begin to unravel. Are there other tribes who hold significant power in the south? I remember reading about the south in the past and of the large number of rebel groups loosely banded together in fighting Khartoum. The southerns are clearly used to living isolated and localised. The complete lack of infrastructure makes economic reform dangerously slow and sounds like a recipe for a failed state, never able to get itself off the ground.
    The Dinka & Nuer are the two largest tribes & they are about 90% of the population in the northern part of Sth Sudan - the oil producing area. They also appear to be the tribes who did the bulk of the fighting during the civil war. They negotiated independence with Sudan & have the largest & best armed militias - they form the core of the military. I don't know enough about the politics of the other tribes to know who is siding with who & who is neutral, but I doubt any other tribes could challenge either.

    Can Uganda be considered to act as an impartial third party?
    No, and it isn't trying to. It has made it clear it will be intervening against the rebels. Ethiopia is probably the closest to an impartial 3rd party as best I can tell. While there are some Sth Sudanese-linked tribes in the Sth west of Ethiopia there aren't any connections with the people who hold power in Addis. Ethiopia is also the home of the African Union & is keen to present itself as a mature regional power.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Ethiopia is also the home of the African Union & is keen to present itself as a mature regional power.
    What's their level of relations with Eritrea?
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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    What's their level of relations with Eritrea?
    I don't think they have formal relations. In fact, Eritrea refused to send an envoy to the AU from 2000 to 2011. Things are still hostile. Part of my trip took me near to the border & our car was stopped several times & IDs checked (including mine). Apparently there have been occasional Eritrean infiltrations. I think Eritrea has helped rebels in Afar & has been accused of doing the same with al shabab in Somalia (which Ethiopia is actively fighting).

    From what I can work out (and this isn't just based on biased Ethiopian accounts) most of the fault lies on the Eritrean side. The place is basically a paranoid dictatorship that resembles the DPRK in some ways. It plays on an insular, self-reliant strain in Eritrean culture to the detriment of the nation (I have a mate in Addis whose mother is Eritrean & he had some interesting observations on his mother's people). Eritrea managed to systematically piss off pretty much every potential ally before & during the 1998-2000 war, making it easier for Ethiopia to isolate it before finally winning on the battlefield. It has continued in a similar vein. Since independence in 1991 Eritrea has been in conflict with every neighbouring nation, including wars with Ethiopia & Yemen and armed clashes with Djibouti. It currently has an army of over 200,000 for a nation of 6 million. Ethiopia with 90 million has a smaller army.

    Personally I think Ethiopia would be prepared to make moves toward restoring relations, if only for its image. It is difficult to see that happening without a sea change in attitudes in Asmara, however.


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  14. #29
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    Death toll could be higher than thought. Meanwhile peace talks in Addis are struggling.


    Nairobi, Kenya: As fighting continued to rage across South Sudan on Thursday, a new estimate raised the death toll in the conflict significantly and a senior US official questioned the government's insistence that a coup attempt had been responsible for setting off the violence and instability there.

    The International Crisis Group said the number of dead from the conflict was close to 10,000 people, a major increase from earlier estimates by the United Nations.

    "Given the intensity of fighting in over 30 different locations in the past three weeks, we are looking at a death toll approaching 10,000," said Casie Copeland, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, a research and advocacy institution.

    The UN special representative for South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, said on December 26 that more than 1000 people had been killed.

    Even then, some analysts said they suspected that the UN figures were low, and that was before two more weeks of sustained, often intense fighting with heavy weapons. Still, some officials cautioned that the 10,000 figure was more speculation than a hard count.

    Herve Ladsous, the UN under-secretary for peacekeeping operations, said after a meeting with the Security Council on Thursday that the death toll probably was substantially higher than the 1000 figure reported in late December, right after the fighting began.

    "We are not able to provide final figures," he said. "We know it will be very substantially in excess of the 1000 figure."

    The fighting began in a military barracks in Juba on December 15. President Salva Kiir said that there had been an attempted coup, led by his former vice president Riek Machar. The issue of whether there was a coup plot remains a significant stumbling block in the peace negotiations to end the conflict, and on Thursday a senior State Department official challenged the version of events put forward by the South Sudanese government.

    "We've not seen any evidence that this was a coup attempt, but it certainly was the result of a huge political rift between Riek Machar and the president," assistant secretary of state for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told a Senate committee in Washington.

    Mr Machar has said that the 11 senior politicians held as suspected plotters had to be released before there could be a ceasefire. Mr Kiir has said they must be tried for their conspiracy to overthrow the government and cannot be freed summarily.

    "The United States strongly believes that the political prisoners currently being held in Juba must be released," Ms Thomas-Greenfield said. "And each day that the conflict continues, the risk of an all-out civil war grows as ethnic tensions and more civilians are killed, injured or forced to flee."

    She added that the humanitarian situation had worsened with every passing day. More than 200,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan, including about 60,000 taking shelter at UN compounds. More than 30,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries like Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

    Thursday was the ninth anniversary of the peace agreement that created the framework for South Sudan's independence from Sudan. It was also the third anniversary of the referendum in which an overwhelming number of people officially voted to split off and create their own nation.

    Now, the conflict is nearing the one-month mark, with neither side prepared to give ground in negotiations or on the battlefield. Colonel Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the South Sudanese military, said that there had been fighting Thursday near Bentiu, the capital of the oil-producing Unity state.


    The World Health Organisation had documented 2566 cases of gunshot wounds as of Wednesday, spread across six of South Sudan's 10 states. Displaced people have described indiscriminate killing of civilians as well as targeted attacks against ethnic groups.


    New York Times

    Read more: South Sudan: new estimate puts death toll at 10,000


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    South Sudan conflict: UN warns of 'ethnic cleansing'

    Ethnic cleansing is taking place in war-torn South Sudan, the country's UN human rights commission has warned.

    It says it has observed starvation, the burning of villages and rape being used as weapons of war across the country.

    The three-member commission, which was established earlier this year, has just completed a 10-day visit to South Sudan, which has been blighted by conflict for more than three years.

    President Salva Kiir has denied that ethnic cleansing is taking place.

    In a statement released on Thursday, the commission says "the stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda" in 1994 - a reference to the killing of 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in the space of three months.

    Yasmin Sooka, the chair of the commission, said that everywhere the team went in South Sudan, it "heard villagers saying they are ready to shed blood to get their land back".

    South Sudan's civil war has caused more than 2.2 million people to flee their homes.

    It began in 2013, two years after South Sudan became independent, when President Salva Kiir sacked his cabinet and accused Vice-President Riek Machar of instigating a failed coup.

    Government and rebels agreed to attend peace talks in 2014, and a deal was signed a year later.

    Mr Machar eventually returned from exile to be reinstated as first vice-president of a new unity government under Mr Kiir in April 2016.

    However he was again sacked months later after renewed conflict.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38174754

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