Over 100 killed in South Sudan violence: All you need to know about the crisis

Five years after gaining independence from Sudan, South Sudan is entangled and paralysed from an escalating violence. 115 soldiers were reportedly killed after gun battles broke out across South Sudan’s capital Juba on its fifth independence anniversary.

FP Staff July 11, 2016 17:03:25 IST
Over 100 killed in South Sudan violence: All you need to know about the crisis

The United States urged an immediate end to the violence in South Sudan on Monday after fresh clashes erupted in the capital.

Five years after gaining independence from Sudan, South Sudan is entangled and paralysed from escalating violence. 115 soldiers were reportedly killed after gun battles broke out across South Sudan’s capital Juba on its fifth independence anniversary on 9 July.

The battles are the first since Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar returned in April to retake his post after three years of conflict.

City residents began fleeing their homes as the UN reported the use of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and "heavy ground assault weaponry". Helicopter gunships and tanks were also deployed.

External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj asked Indians not to travel to South Sudan in a message on social networking site Twitter. She also said that the Indian authorities are planning evacuation of Indian nationals.

A spokesman for Machar told BBC that South Sudan is “back to war” on Sunday. It is interesting to note that the political party which led the war for independence is the reason behind the violence which has gripped the country now.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after more than 20 years of struggle which killed 1.5 million people and displaced more than four people, reported BBC.

Over 100 killed in South Sudan violence All you need to know about the crisis

Members of Nuer tribe hold guns. Reuters

The trouble started when a civil war broke out in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused Machar of planning a coup against him. This instigated a war between the two biggest ethnic groups in South Sudan, namely the Dinka and the Nuer.

The Dinka, the largest ethnic group is led by President Kiir and Machar belongs to the second largest group, the Nuer.

It is, however, still not ascertained if there was a coup planned against Kiir. Machar denies the allegations and has, in turn, accused Kiir for failure to manage corruption, according to BBC.

The violence between the ethnic groups spread quickly throughout the country and about 4,13,000 civilians were killed in the first month after the violence broke out, according to MercyCorps.

Tens of thousands have been reported killed.

Under international pressure of UN sanctions, the two warring sides signed a peace deal in August 2015, which demanded permanent ceasefire. However, this deal has been violated a number of times and the situation remains volatile.

Violent outbreaks are still occurring throughout the country. After enduring 25 years of civil war, South Sudan is again experiencing tensions between ethnic divisions which had still not been reconciled.

It is also one of the least developed countries in the world which has exacerbated the humanitarian situation. Since the violence erupted, one in five people in the country have been displaces, reported MercyCorps. More than 2.3 million people have fled their homes. Most people are still stuck inside the country. About 3 million people are at the risk of going hungry.

The economy of South Sudan was fragile even before the fighting began and the new situation has rendered people helpless. They have very few resources to sustain themselves. Nearly five million people are surviving on emergency food rations.

Taking a note of the quickly deteriorating condition, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting and demanded Kiir and Machar "genuinely commit themselves to the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement, including the permanent ceasefire and redeployment of military forces from Juba".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he was shocked and appalled at the resumption of violence in South Sudan.

(With inputs from AFP)

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