The new President of Kenya, William Ruto (PhD), revealed on the eve of this year’s Christmas, December 24, 2022, how his government is deeply concerned about the recent escalation of hostilities in South Sudan, a nation with which Kenya shares a narrow border compared to other neighbors.
Ruto’s statement referred to his country as a “guarantor of the South Sudan peace process” and urged the international community to “immediately intervene” despite the fact that its border is located far from where the most recent violence in Africa’s newest country, South Sudan, was taking place.
In order to further contribute to the improvement of the situation, Ruto sends food and medical supplies to the two South Sudanese states of Upper Nile and Jonglei, which are the scenes of the current clashes.
The statement urges the international community to urgently provide all available and relevant aid to the South Sudanese government. This, according to the statement, would enable it to solve this dire situation and return to the path of the peace process.
Officials within the Ethiopian government have not made an official statement on the matter, despite the country’s proximity and the border it shares. In fact, Ethiopia has previously played a key role in mediating negotiations and peace procedures between those vying to lead South Sudan.
Fighting over control of resources and authority has been occurring all over South Sudan since its 2011 independence from Sudan. Prior to independence, different ethnic groups fought over land and cattle.
Conflicts between the two states that border Ethiopia’s western region have been going on since the beginning of December. The biggest ethnic rivalries that have led to this violent conflict are those between the Nuer and Murle ethnic groups.
At least 166 individuals have perished, according to reports made public last week, but the most recent conflict in the past week was one of the deadliest, with approximately 60 people killed. The violence has also internally displaced up to 50,000 individuals.
A group of armed youth from the Nuer ethnic group attacked the Murle ethnic group last week in the states of Jonglei, Gumuruk, and Likuangole counties, but the Nuer sustained more casualties.
This disagreement between the two is not new. The same fierce fighting took place in 2020.
Early this week, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights released a statement describing these disputes as inter-communal and sub-national. The office is actively monitoring the tension in the Upper Nile State, according to Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso’s statement in Banjul, Gambia.
Militias from another state, Northern Holei, are responsible for the conflicts, particularly in the town of Kudok in one of the counties of Upper Nile, according to the statement. It stated that military and opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army militants supported the militias (SPLA-IO).
The violence in South Sudan also affects Ethiopia. Militants from the Murle tribe entered the Gambella Regional State of Ethiopia and kidnapped three children, continuing a pattern they had been following previously, according to officials of the regional state.
Ugutu Adeng, the head of communications for the regional state, told The Reporter that most of these actions were done by militants from the neighboring country in Akobo, Wantawo, and Mekoy, three of the woredas where the kids were taken.
Given the failed efforts to get the previously kidnapped children returned, Ugutu said, “We don’t have any hope that these kids would be released. These activities have grown in these three woredas.”
About 767 members of the Anuak and Nuer tribes were killed as a result of attacks by the Murle tribes in South Sudan, according to information provided by the regional authorities. Numerous homes were also burned, almost 22,000 inhabitants were made to leave their homes, and 4,761 animals were also taken.
The recent conflicts demonstrate, if anything, the grave danger this would pose to the region.
The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), headed by former top Ethiopian official Workineh Gebeyehu (PhD), expressed its alarm about recent violence in the two regional states and requested an immediate end to it.
The IGAD urged the government to “silence the guns and provide an immediate platform for dialogue,” citing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), which the leadership of South Sudan, including President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, signed.
The violence in Jonglei state, where young people are using heavy weapons, has also caught the attention of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which said on Wednesday that it is “gravely concerned.”
The Mission urged for investigation into and accountability for those guilty of inciting violence and kidnapping of women and children..
UNMISS and its foreign partners “strongly encourage national politicians and traditional leaders to persuade youth to immediately stop the violence and seek a dialogue-based approach that focuses on restoring calm and peacefully resolving the conflict’s root causes.”