March 23-29, 2015
Media Monitoring Report for South Sudan
Posted on March 29, 2015
Compiled by Vincent Marquis
- South Sudan’s warring parties clash around Bentiu town
- 5,000 South Sudanese refugees flee to Sudan in one week
- At least 100 people killed in South Darfur tribal clashes
- UNSC calls for comprehensive steps to end South Sudan conflict, President Salva Kiir rejects UN threat of sanctions
- Rebels claim 38 government soldiers killed on battlefield
- South Sudan Parliament extends President’s term by 3 years
- Fighting between the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and the rebel forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar reignited on Monday around Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s richest state, Unity state.
- Rebel forces claim that government troops have attacked several of their defence positions in and around the capital: in areas south and east of Bentiu; in the west of Rubkotna town, a twin-town, 5km north of Bentiu; and in other areas 10km north of Rubkotna.
- Government military representatives have confirmed the clashes, but have accused the rebels of shelling Bentiu.
- Anonymous sources from Bentiu have accused pro-government forces of allegedly preventing civilians from fleeing into the UN protection camp in the twin towns when Bentiu came under intensive shelling by the rebels.
- The two belligerents have been accusing each other of being on the military offensive in various areas in Upper Nile and Unity states for the past week, following the collapse of the peace talks in Addis Ababa on March 6th.
- On Wednesday, President Kiir said he will no longer tolerate rebels carrying out attacks on government positions, threatening to order his troops to pursue rebel forces despite the risk of international sanctions.
- The UN refugee agency claims that nearly 5,000 South Sudanese refugees have flown to Sudan in one week following the recent surge of violence in the Upper Nile state. In October 2014, aid groups estimated the arrival rate of South Sudanese refugees at 1,000 people weekly.
- These waves of refugees occur in the context of failed South Sudanese peace talks earlier this month, which have sparked violent clashes between government factions and rebel groups in northern states. More refugees are expected to arrive in Sudan as fighting continues.
- Sudan refuses to consider the South Sudanese citizens as refugees. However, Sudanese authorities agreed to deliver ID cards to South Sudanese individuals, giving them the right to reside, work, have access to basic services and move freely in their former country.
- UN agencies estimate that around 500,000 South Sudanese are now in Sudan.
- At least 100 people were killed and twenty five others injured on March 22nd in clashes between the Salamat and Falata tribes in several areas around the locality of Buram in South Darfur, at the border between Sudan and South Sudan.
- MP and agent of the Salamat chief, Musa al-Bashir Musa, claims that clashes between the two tribes took place following the theft of cows in the area of Rajaj, calling upon the state’s government to immediately act to stop violence.
- Musa says that fighting coincides with the visit of Sudanese President Omar Hassan alBashir to South Darfur state, demanding the governor to assume his responsibility to stop the bloodshed.
- Musa pointed out that localities of Buram and Tulus are witnessing an administrative vacuum, holding the commissioner of Buram responsible for the clashes.
UNSC calls for comprehensive steps to end South Sudan conflict, President Salva Kiir rejects UN threat of sanctions
- Members of the United Nations Security Council have reiterated their strong condemnation of the repeated violation of the ceasefire agreement by South Sudan’s warring factions, weeks after the failure to conclude an agreement that would have brought the nation closer to ending its ongoing conflict.
- In a statement issued on Tuesday, the UNSC stressed the need for sanctions, saying it will encourage all parties to “take effective and comprehensive steps” to end all acts of violence.
- The UNSC further underlines “the significant importance of fighting impunity and ensuring accountability for serious violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including those that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
- This statement was issued a few days after South Sudan President Salva Kiir spoke at a public rally in Juba for the first time since the failure of peace talks a few weeks ago, where he emphasized that he will not be forced into a premature peace deal and rejected the UN threat of sanctions against South Sudan, arguing that it would only further damage an already crumbling economy.
- On Tuesday, the UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, stated that “the situation is very grave and in the absence of peace, there is every possibility of it becoming more serious”, emphasizing that 2.5 million people in South Sudan are severely food insecure while 400,000 children have not attended school since the civil war broke out in December 2013.
- South Sudan rebels, led by former vice-president Riek Machar, have claimed that 38 soldiers of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) were killed on battlefields in Ayot and Nhial Diu in Jonglei and Unity states.
- Rebel spokesperson Lony T. Ngundeng claims that opposition forces blocked the advance of the army on their bases, and that 14 PKM machine guns were captured from SPLA forces during fighting on Wednesday in Bentiu.
- The Parliament of South Sudan voted to extend the presidential and parliamentary terms until July 2018, after elections due to be held in June were called off and peace negotiations broke up without agreement.
- In February, government spokesman Michael Makuei said that the extension proposal was aimed at avoiding any power vacuum in the event that the government fails to reach a permanent deal with rebels.
- One of the chairmen of the main rebel faction, Mabior Garang de Mabior, denounced the move and described it as unconstitutional, claiming that the self-extension of president Kiir’s mandate and his colleagues in parliament to rule for three more years without seeking approval from the people amounted to a coup against the people of South Sudan.