That is an excerpt from Dignity in Motion: Borders, Our bodies and Rights.
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In 2011, South Sudan gained its independence after a 22-year civil struggle between the predominantly Muslim northern Sudanese (now Sudan) authorities and the Southern rebels who largely represented the Christian and indigenous religions. The peace settlement that introduced forth South Sudan’s independence was facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Improvement (IGAD) and different international locations like the USA, United Kingdom, and Norway. The Complete Peace Settlement (CPA) signed between the Sudan Folks’s Liberation Motion (SPLM) and the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2005 made means for a referendum that allowed the Sudanese individuals to resolve in the event that they needed Sudan to be cut up in two. The referendum was held in January 2011 the place an amazing 99 % of South Sudanese individuals voted within the favor of independence of the South thus, forming the Republic of South Sudan on 9 July 9 2011. South Sudanese independence was celebrated, and lots of worldwide organizations seemed on the occasion optimistically.

This optimism was short-lived, as in December 2013, battle broke out inside factions of the Sudanese Folks’s Liberation Military (SPLA). This plunged the lately shaped nation right into a civil struggle that resulted within the loss of life, abuse, and displacement of 1000’s of individuals. This chapter appears on the key turning factors within the civil struggle in a bid to grasp the interior displacement attributable to the battle, which is the biggest compelled migration occasion in current African historical past. It makes use of empirical knowledge to evaluate the motion of individuals and the set off occasions that may have led to the motion within the three areas of the Equatorian states, Jonglei and Higher Nile.

Variables Defining the Battle

Ethnic Variety

Ethnic variety is an inherent a part of South Sudan, and the nation includes greater than 60 totally different ethnic teams. The most important two teams are the Dinka and the Nuer tribes, which have been on the heart of the civil struggle in South Sudan. Historically, each of those are rival pastoralist teams, which have competed over grazing land and water for cattle prior to now. They, nevertheless, got here collectively for the better good to mount a resistance towards (then) north Sudan. Conserving the rivalries apart didn’t make the issues go away, and the variations finally surfaced after independence.

Variations within the Sudanese Folks’s Liberation Motion

The nation’s first president, Salva Kiir, is from the Dinka tribe, a tribe that includes round 36 % of the inhabitants. In his Independence Day speech on 9 July 9 2011, he appealed to the individuals to view their cultural identities as a ‘supply of satisfaction and energy, not parochialism and battle’. Kiir emphasised the truth that the individuals had been South Sudanese first. Kiir additionally appointed Riek Machar as his vp. To know the importance of this appointment, one has to comprehend that Machar is from the ethnic Nuer tribe, which is the second largest within the nation. Machar was not merely a consultant of the rival group, but in addition an essential chief who was liable for main a brutal bloodbath in 1991 towards Dinka civilians the place round 2,000 civilians had been killed. It’s subsequently clear how Kiir’s stand on unity and the inclusion of a powerful determine from a rival ethnic group appeared like a beneficiant step in direction of inclusion.

Issues turned bitter when, to start with of 2013, Machar started vocalizing his criticisms of the way in which the federal government was being run underneath Kiir and on how the financial system was being dealt with. Machar additionally expressed his intentions of contesting the presidency in 2015. This was not well-received by Kiir, and he fired Machar and all 28 of his cupboard members in July 2013.

The Civil Struggle

On 15 December 2013, at a gathering, the battle broke out between factions of the SPLA, every supporting Kiir and Machar. Whereas who began the combat remains to be debated, one model of the occasions dictates that, on the assembly, presidential guards of the Dinka majority on Kiir’s aspect tried to disarm the Nuer guards on Machar’s aspect. The battle escalated dramatically, and the violence unfold and resulted in ethnic cleaning within the capital metropolis of Juba. The difficulty quickly advanced from a political battle to an ethnic face-off. Machar fled the capital metropolis of Juba and the Nuer faction of the SPLA fled with him. President Kiir later acknowledged that the preventing was a coup try by Machar and his allies, which Machar denied. Within the first week of preventing, 1,000 individuals had been killed and round 100,000 had been displaced.

After Machar fled, the violence morphed into an ethnic battle, spreading to different elements of the nation, specifically the then-Equatorian states, that are the Central, Japanese, and Western states (Juba is in central Equatoria), the Jonglei state, the Unity state, and the Higher Nile state.

In 2015, the 2 combatants, the SPLA led by Salva Kiir and the SPLA-IO (Sudanese Folks’s Liberation Military-In Opposition) led by Riek Machar, reached a peace settlement. The peace settlement was facilitated by IGAD and, as a part of the settlement, Machar was speculated to return to Juba and resume his submit because the vp. Machar, nevertheless, was insecure about his security in Juba and insisted on bringing his personal fighters to Juba with him. In April 2016, the rival forces clashed once more, re-igniting the violence, and Machar fled Juba. On this incident, round 300 individuals had been killed and, within the following week, round 26,000 individuals fled the town.

In September 2018, a peace deal was signed between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, formally ending the civil struggle. As a part of the peace deal, Machar was speculated to return to Juba by Could 2019, which was prolonged by six months as each events had disagreements relating to the peace deal. The November date for the peace deal was pushed by an extra 100 days attributable to issues relating to the insurgent chief Machar’s safety. This collection of delays ended when each events agreed to type a Unity authorities in February 2020.

Evolution from Group Clashes to Identification Politics

Occasions That Drew the Different Ethnic Communities into the Battle

In October 2015, Kiir issued an order to extend the variety of the states from 10 to twenty-eight. This transfer gave the Dinkas a majority in strategic areas and brought on angst among the many Equatorians and the Shilluk populations. This transfer was seen as a ploy by the Dinkas to seize land that belonged to the opposite ethnic communities. After these strikes, new teams that had been earlier comparatively dormant within the combat started to stand up towards the federal government.

In September 2016, Lam Akol of the Democratic Change get together (the biggest opposition get together to SPLA) introduced a brand new faction known as the Nationwide Democratic Motion (NDM) in an try to overthrow Kiir. The preventing additionally unfold to the comparatively calm Equatoria area, the place the SPLA-IO forces had sought shelter, and to the Higher Nile state.

Main Outbreaks in Jonglei, Equatoria, and Higher Nile areas

Put up-December 2013, the magnitude of the prevalent group clashes elevated. The frequent incidence of clashes over sources between totally different tribes occupying and competing for a similar pure sources advanced into one thing extra. All empirical and occasion knowledge used is dated by November 2019.


In consequence, South Sudan witnessed its first main post-independence ethnic conflict in January 2012 even earlier than the civil struggle erupted between the Dinka and the Nuer factions of the governing SPLM. The federal government of South Sudan and SPLA had carried out disarmament, focusing on the Lou Nuer individuals specifically after the CPA in 2005. This selective disarmament fueled the communal tensions between each tribes and resulted in armed confrontation backed by ethnic hatred. The state of Jonglei in South Sudan witnessed ethnic clashes between the Lou Nuer and the Murle tribes. Due to this, round 600 individuals had been killed in Jonglei, and round 100,000 individuals from the realm fled their properties. The explanation for these clashes was primarily useful resource shortage. Nonetheless, the magnitude of this conflict was way more intense than what had been witnessed earlier than. The conflict in Jonglei was larger, extra pronounced, and was backed by distrust between main ethnic teams.


The second area in focus is the Equatoria area. Equatoria holds a number of the greatest agricultural land in South Sudan and was generally known as the nation’s breadbasket. Sarcastically, the escalation of violence within the area has uncovered round 6 million individuals to the danger of hunger.

Probably the most focused-on ethnic tensions in South Sudan are these between the Nuer and the Dinka tribes, who type the main members of the civil struggle, the previous being related to the SPLA-IO and the latter with SPLA. The individuals in Equatoria had lived in relative concord for years earlier than the civil struggle broke out in 2013. After the SPLA accused Machar of making an attempt a coup in 2013, Dinka troops had been accused of finishing up house-to-house searches within the Nuer suburbs. Researchers from Human Rights Watch documented widespread killing of Nuer males largely between 15–19 December 2013. This included the mass killing of 200–300 males within the Gudele neighborhood in Juba on 16 December 2013. This led to the focusing on of the members of the Dinka tribe in different elements of the nation, particularly those managed by SPLA-IO. This occasion is simply one of many earliest examples of Dinka-Nuer clashes following the occasions of December 2013.

Regardless of this outbreak, the area managed to remain out of the battle till the federal government military started purging the opposition in 2016. The peace settlement signed between Machar and Kiir sparked violence on this comparatively immune area. The peace treaty of 2015 allowed the SPLA-IO to determine bases across the nation, which allowed Machar’s aspect to recruit in Equatoria. The federal government’s deployment of the Mathiang Anyoor, a Dinka-dominated militia sought to curtail recruitment within the area. The Mathiang Anyoor, nevertheless, terrorized the native inhabitants and allegedly killed and arrested anybody suspected of getting hyperlinks with the SPLA-IO. They’ve additionally been accused of focusing on civilians on ethnic traces.

Since 2015, there have been focused killings within the area that has brought on many voters to flee to different elements of the nation and south to Uganda. In a current occasion on 3 July 2019, greater than 100 civilians had been killed, and the same variety of women and girls had been subjected to sexual violence within the Central Equatorian area after the revitalized peace settlement in June 2019. This surge in violence itself brought on greater than 56,000 civilians to change into displaced inside South Sudan. The land within the area furthermore will not be getting used for agriculture as a result of inherent instability of the area inflicting a standstill in financial exercise and meals manufacturing within the area. 

Higher Nile

In December 2015, President Salva Kiir, after a Christmas Eve broadcast, roped one other stakeholder into the battle when he introduced that the then-existing 10 states could be divided into 28 new ones. He appointed 28 new governors who promised loyalty to him in alternate for being put in control of the brand new states; these individuals had been then sworn in 5 days later. This transfer was seen as a significant energy play by Kiir’s opposition all through South Sudan.

The Shilluk individuals within the nation’s oil-rich Higher Nile state denounced this transfer. The Shilluk have typically seen their land as their most precious asset and subsequently have chosen to tread politics fastidiously. The Shilluk by no means retaliated towards the federal government and subsequently didn’t have a cause to anticipate such a transfer. The group’s major preventing power, known as the Angwelek military, was additionally allied with the federal government. The carving up of the brand new states, nevertheless, was seen by the Shilluk leaders as a deliberate try to carve up the Shilluk homeland. It was seen by the Dinkas as a transfer to take away the Shilluk group from their historic land. Due to this fact, the Shilluk group, together with the Angwelek military, switched sides to combat with Machar.

One more reason that may have contributed to this swap in loyalty is the presence of the Dinka Padong militia within the area. Dinka Padong had been civilians armed initially of the battle (in 2013) to assist shield the oil operations within the area, which the federal government was reluctant to disarm. The presence of such a powerful militia within the Shilluk area additional made the group insecure.

The Shilluk power was decently equipped with arms that had been supplied by their former allies, the SPLA. The frequent individuals within the area who earlier benefitted from the delicate steadiness of politics within the area suffered from this variation within the energy dynamics and, through the preventing between SPLA and SPLA-IO, the allied Higher Nile faction, many Shilluk individuals had been compelled to go away their properties. Within the aftermath, the chairperson of the Fee on Human Rights in South Sudan claimed that the federal government was participating in ‘social engineering’ after round 2,000 individuals, largely Dinka, had been transported to the deserted areas.

Internally Displaced Inhabitants

The foremost brunt of the battle has been borne by the individuals of South Sudan. The individuals barely obtained time to get better from the wrestle for his or her independence earlier than this battle broke out. Based on a 2018 report, round 400,000 individuals have misplaced their lives since December 2013; as well as, 4.5 million individuals have been displaced.

Such situations have led the individuals to maneuver with the intention to search for higher alternatives. South Sudan’s refugee disaster is the biggest in Africa and the third largest on this planet. The inner displacement of the individuals is a urgent drawback and is tough to evaluate and monitor, primarily as a result of many logistical, social, and psychological disadvantages related to the issue.

One in each three individuals in South Sudan is an internally displaced particular person. The variety of internally displaced individuals has risen from 76,000 on the onset of the battle in 2013 to 2 million as of 2019. The foremost reason for relocation of individuals has been the ethnic battle. The foremost stakeholders on this ethnic battle are the SPLA, with a Dinka majority, and SPLA-IO, with Nuer majority. Different ethnicities, just like the Shilluk and the Equatorian tribes, have additionally been affected.  Ethnic cleaning by the Dinka-dominated authorities, lack of safety attributable to preventing between the rebels and the SPLA, lack of financial alternatives, and pure disasters have additionally pushed individuals to maneuver to different locations in seek for higher residing situations.

The battle left many sections of society susceptible. Younger males and boys had been focused as a result of they had been anticipated to affix the wrestle. Girls and women had been uncovered to sexual violence, resembling rape and harassment.

Based on the 2019 Humanitarian Wants Overview, there are at present 1.36 million internally displaced individuals in South Sudan. Out of those, 15 % reside in safety of civilian (PoC) websites, 32 % in collective facilities, 7 % in casual settlements, and 46 % in different websites .

The United Nations (UN) bases have been a sanctuary for most of the individuals fleeing violence. The UN acknowledged its function as a protector, constructed fences, and arrange sentry factors to guard its bases. Nonetheless, these areas haven’t escaped the consequences of ethnic divides. On a number of events, the UN bases have changed into battle zones as a result of huge function that ethnicity performs within the on a regular basis lives of the individuals. The bases are sometimes divided into Shilluk, Nuer, and Dinka. Regardless of this, the bottom residents witness inter-ethnic fights, which are sometimes stopped by UN peacekeepers.

The UN bases have additionally been focused and on a number of events, and humanitarian employees have been a part of the casualties. In a single such incident on 17 February 2016 a UN base that housed 47,000 displaced individuals was attacked by culprits carrying South Sudan navy uniforms. The attackers killed 30 individuals, injured 120 extra, and burned down many of the Shilluk and the Nuer sections of the bottom by the point UN peacekeepers pushed the attackers out of the camp.

The civilian inhabitants on the UN bases dwell underneath 24-hour armed guard. Some civilians depart the bottom through the day both to work or farm, however most keep within the camps as a result of concern of being attacked. In bases like these, girls have taken up the accountability of stepping out of the bases for financial actions. The justification given is that males usually tend to be murdered by the troopers than are girls. Girls of the households within the bases danger being sexually harassed every day once they step out of the bases, however they like this to placing the boys of their household in danger.

Analyzing the Information

Information on Inner Displacement

The next part assesses the yearly humanitarian wants overview knowledge compiled by the UN Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Examination of the information goals to attach the dots between the empirical knowledge and the occasions that occurred within the area at totally different moments all through South Sudan’s historical past. The information on inside displacement is also affected by the feelings of the individuals concerned and the way in which they reacted to it.

Ceasefire Violations in these States

The Cessation of Hostilities Settlement (CoHA) was signed first in January 2014 with the intention of deterring ceasefire violations by offering a platform that would maintain the concerned events accountable and therefore susceptible to worldwide scrutiny. The IGAD Monitoring and Verification mechanism (MVM) was established to watch the CoHA. Following is a desk itemizing the ceasefire violations monitored by the MVM, which was renamed to the Ceasefire and Transitional Safety Preparations Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) after the signing of the Settlement of the decision of the Battle in South Sudan (CTSAMM) in August 2015.

Connecting the Dots


Wanting on the Equatoria area, one would possibly discover the sharp ascent of the variety of IDPs within the Central, Japanese, and Western Equatorian states. Between 2015 and 2016 (examine stories from 2016 and 2017), the quantity displaced individuals in Central Equatoria virtually tripled. The numbers in Japanese Equatoria have risen by greater than an element of 37, and people in Western Equatoria have risen by round 30,000. Such numbers might be attributed to occasions that incited insecurity at the next magnitude, like those that concerned a face-off between the middle’s forces and rebels, and in addition to the quantity of ceasefire violations reported in Jonglei, which is simply north of the Equatoria area. The instability attributable to Machar’s return in July 2016 may even have been behind the rise of insecurity throughout the state itself.


The state of Jonglei witnessed a gradual drop within the variety of IDPs over time regardless of the drop in ceasefire violations. This may very well be puzzling, but when one appears on the magnitude of the ceasefire violations in Jonglei in 2014, that’s the 12 months following the outbreak of the civil struggle. It’s clear that the depth of insecurity within the state has been excessive. Jonglei additionally has been a hotspot for communal violence prior to now and a significant concern for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) earlier than the civil struggle broke out.

Higher Nile

The foremost pressure within the Higher Nile state comes from the truth that it’s an oil-rich state. Therefore, violence to seize land shouldn’t come as a shock, which may clarify the variety of ceasefire violations. The regular variety of IDPs within the state, nevertheless, is puzzling, which is why one has to take a look at the indigenous group within the area too.

The federal government introduced in 2015 that it meant to divide the variety of states after which went on and gave the management of these states to governors who had been favored by the Dinka group. Such a transfer raised a variety of insecurity amongst indigenous communities within the area, however on the identical time additionally cemented the resolve of the indigenous communities to guard their historic land. The Shilluk group is without doubt one of the outstanding communities within the Higher Nile who, regardless of a variety of friction with the ruling SPLM, determined to remain put. This was primarily due to the concern that, in the event that they left, the group would depart their land unprotected. This presence of robust resistance chips away at any insecurity attributable to different elements.

Lack of Contextual Issues within the Peace Offers

In March 2018, 9 opposition teams, excluding the SPLA-IO, shaped the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) to barter with the federal government. Following stress from the worldwide group, the Sudanese authorities succeeded in bringing Kiir and SPLA-IO to carry talks in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. A ceasefire was signed in June 2018, the place each events agreed to type a transitional authorities for the 36 months main as much as the nationwide elections. Despite the fact that the ceasefire was violated hours after it was signed, and objections had been raised relating to the extension of the president’s time period by three years (handed by a SPLM majority parliament), the SPLA-IO agreed to share energy once more with Kiir. Based on the power-sharing settlement, 332 of the 550 seats in parliament would go to Kiir’s faction, 128 to Machar’s faction, and relaxation to different teams. Machar would even be one of many 5 vice presidents. The SSOA faction, nevertheless, was dissatisfied with this association as a result of skewed energy sharing system as depicted within the desk beneath.

Such an inconsideration has been evident within the peace processes because the CPA in 2005. An instance is the composition of the pre-election nationwide govt appointed to supervise the interim interval after the CPA. Based on the CPA the illustration from South Sudan was as follows—28 % from the SPLM and 6 % from ‘different Southern political forces’.

What the Future Holds

The February 2020 peace settlement is a welcome improvement for South Sudan’s individuals and the nation as an entire. Additional, President Kiir’s assurance to make sure the safety of the opposition leaders and the reappointment of Machhar as vp offers hope to an in any other case unstable nation. This volatility, nevertheless, additionally warns one to tread fastidiously in order to not repeat the occasions of the previous. It’s subsequently smart to bear in mind because the nation strikes in direction of a brand new future the plight and the social divisions attributable to rifts between the minority communities. Such a consideration would go a great distance in formulating sustainable peace processes.

A have a look at inside migration in South Sudan makes it evident that the scenario doesn’t simply merely require a CPA—it requires an inclusive one. In a unstable and ethnically various group, like that of South Sudan, a powerful chief motivated within the fallacious means may tip the scales at any second to restart the violence. It’s also clear that, from right here on, the peace course of must be delicate to individuals’s situations, and focus must be given to offering individuals the essential proper to work and dwell peacefully. The intention going ahead now must be to enhance fundamental infrastructure, safe financial alternatives, and promote equitable useful resource sharing.


Desk 1: A timeline of the occasions within the area in focus (Equatoria, Jonglei, Higher Nile)

Desk 2: Inner displacement over time; Supply: Creator’s calculations of UNOCHA knowledge

Desk 3: Complete variety of ceasefire violations

Desk 4: Proportion of inhabitants in energy sharing


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