An unprecedented one percent of the world’s population has been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution to seek safety either somewhere within their country or across borders, according to the latest annual report by the UN Refugee Agency. At the end of 2019, there were 79.5 million people around the world who had been forcibly displaced, up from 70.8 million the year before. The rise was in part due to new displacements in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel region of Africa, Yemen and Syria. It also reflected the inclusion for the first time of 3.6 million Venezuelans who have been displaced outside their country but who have not sought asylum. (Photo: UNHCR)
Thousands are fleeing ongoing inter-communal clashes in South Sudan’s Jonglei State and the newly created Greater Pibor Administrative Area—the latest challenge to efforts to cement peace following last month’s formation of a unity government. The UN peacekeeping mission reports that some 5,000 civilians have been displaced amid fighting between Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic militias. Pibor, in the east of the country, is one of two new oil-rich “administrative areas” created by President Salva Kiir as part of the compromise deal with the rebel opposition that cleared the way for the power-sharing government. (Map: Wikipedia)
South Sudan’s rival leaders have finally agreed to form a transitional government of national unity, officially putting an end to more than six years of war that has left millions displaced and an estimated 400,000 dead. The breakthrough came as President Salva Kiir met rebel leader Riek Machar in the capital Juba, and agreed to appoint Machar as his deputy in a new three-year coalition government—part of a power-sharing deal brokered two years ago and twice delayed. Critical to the breakthrough is Kiir’s offer to return South Sudan to 10 states—after unilaterally increasing them to 32. This is a major demand of the opposition, who charge that Kiir’s redrawing of boundaries is designed to gerrymander Dinka majorities in resource-rich areas, especially those with oil. Those same majorities could also ensure Kiir wins the national elections slated to take place in three years. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)
Political violence has declined in South Sudan since last year’s power-sharing accord, but sporadic ethnic violence persists. The UN peacekeeping mission deployed Nepalese blue helmets this week to Western Lakes State after fighting between the Gak and Manuer communities left 79 people dead and more than 100 injured. “Inter-communal violence continues to have devastating consequences in South Sudan,” said James Reynolds, head of delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross. The new violence comes as almost one million South Sudanese have been affected by flooding that has submerged communities, caused substantial crop losses, and threatened to reverse some of the humanitarian gains made during a year-long ceasefire. (Photo: Alex McBride/TNH)
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his bitter rival and former vice president Riek Machar, now leader of the SPLM-IO rebels, met in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to sign a "permanent" ceasefire agreement, pledging to form an inclusive transitional government. The parties agreed to open humanitarian corridors, release detainees, withdraw troops and militarily disengage. The transitional government is to form a national army and security forces not linked to tribalism. However, the challenges for the 36-month transition period are great. Millions in South Sudan are on the brink of famine, and more than 2.5 million have fled the country. Hundreds of thousands more—mostly members of minority ethnic groups—are internally displaced, with many sheltering in camps administered by the United Nations. Previous efforts at a negotiated peace have broken down. (Photo: Sudan Tribune)
The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan released a report identifying 43 high-ranking military personnel who may be responsible for war crimes. Since the outbreak of violence due to an internal power struggle between government leaders in 2013, more than four million civilians have fled their homes. The report documents acts of murder, torture, unlawful seizure of property, sexual violence and unlawful detention committed by members of the country's rival military factions. The report urges the Hybrid Court to begin investigating and prosecuting these individuals. The African Union is mandated to establish the Hybrid Court under the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan of 2015. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
With action blocked by Russia's veto in the Security Council, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing an independent investigation into war crimes in Syria.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that South Sudan "teeters on the brink of a disaster," and called for deploying 4,000 peacekeepers to protect civilians.
On the fifth anniversary of its independence from Khartoum, South Sudan is again descending into civil war, with last year's tentative peace deal breaking down.
A force of Ethiopian troops crossed into South Sudan to launch a joint offensive with the Juba government against ethnic Murle militia fighters who staged a bloody cross-border raid.
A UN Human Rights Office report describing a multitude of atrocious rights violations in South Sudan especially singles out government forces for a campaign of mass rape.
South Sudan's opposition charges that a plan by President Salva Kiir to redraw the country's internal borders aims at keeping oil wealth in the hands of his Dinka followers.