Clashes and Displacement in South Sudan

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The remote, eastern state of the most recently acknowledged nation, South Sudan, is experiencing growing “ethnic and tribal clashes.” What does this mean? Unfortunately it seems as if the violence goes beyond the feuding tribes of the Lou Nuer and the Murle. In fact, there have been several reports of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army’s troops attacking civilians, (the same guerrilla army that claimed initial independence for South Sudan).

It seems that the root cause of the deteriorating situation in Jonglei is that there is “tribal tension, a lot of history of bad blood, and a rebellion on top of it.” As of now “more than 100,000 people have been displaced,” and are being labeled internally displaced persons for the time being, as opposed to refugees who have crossed an international border. “Officials describe a desperate situation in which tens of thousands of people are hiding in swamps, without food, water or medicine — fearful of returning to their villages because of attacks by rival tribes or even soldiers who are supposed to be protecting them.”

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The great problem that the United States and other Western nations are having is that they have “poured billions of dollars into South Sudan” into an attempt to turn the oil-rich land into a more stable and amicable nation, but now the government, army, and stability that they invested in are crumbling. Therefore the U.S. and other supportive nations are in a predicament, forced to decide whether or not to publicly criticize a system that they assisted in creating. The current violence in Jonglei “threatens to destabilize the country and tatter the credibility of its fledgling, American-backed government.” The United States up unto this point “has strongly supported the South Sudan government, led by Salva Kiir, a leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.” But is appears that President Kiir just last week dismissed his vice president and his entire cabinet, who “threatened to challenge him for his party’s leadership before elections in 2015.” He has taken a position that foreign officials fear most; he is becoming power-hungry and rogue.

So when the United States “National Security Council, the most buttoned-up part of a buttoned-up Obama administration, is aggressively trying to get the word out about a violent, murky conflict in a distant land, it’s worth listening to.” There is serious violence and displacement taking place in the world’s newest nation, indicating real problems for the development of the Western world endorsed country.

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One thought on “Clashes and Displacement in South Sudan

  1. Christopher Shaw

    Some of this jockeying for power might be expected in a nation that just celebrated its second year of independence on July 9, but the threat of consolidating power by Kiir also risks the credibility of this nascent democracy in the eyes of the international community. Americans and Europeans will be quick to turn away — again — from a deserving yet potentially corrupt leadership in the face of other priorities. Here’s hoping that the Obama administration identifies clear, tangible and realistic steps to support Kiir if and only if he remains committed to the rule of law. Good story.

    Reply

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