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[Dehai-WN] Guardian.co.uk: Conflict in South Sudan requires a firm and coherent international response

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2012 23:21:29 +0100

Conflict in South Sudan requires a firm and coherent international response

Domestic and cross-border violence threatens to destabilise both South Sudan
and its neighbours; the global community must act

. Posted by

. Sara Pantuliano <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/sara-pantuliano>

. 15 January 2012 11.36 GMT

The violence unleashed in <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/south-sudan>
South Sudan in recent days is a stark reminder of the
-in-south-sudan> formidable challenges facing the new nation.

The escalation of the conflict in Jonglei represents a serious threat to the
peace and stability of South <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/sudan> Sudan.
The challenges are, however, not limited to internal conflicts. Fighting
over the border with Sudan has also intensified in recent weeks in the
regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, creating a significant
refugee crisis both within South Sudan and in Ethiopia, and posing a threat
to international peace and security that could make the resurgence of
conflict between the two Sudans a matter for the UN security council.

The impact the conflict is having on the civilian population also requires
substantial international efforts to address the crisis and reduce
suffering. Verifying the humanitarian situation in the border areas remains
difficult because the government of Sudan has banned international aid
agencies and media from the region, but it is clear that the government's
counter-insurgency operations against the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement/Army (SPLM/A)-North have exacted a high toll on civilians. It is
<http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44517534/ns/world_news-africa/> estimated that
417,000 people have fled their homes as a result of violence in the border
areas. Many missed the planting season or abandoned their crops. This is
partly why the
<http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/01/20121511140525258.html> UN is
now warning that the region faces an imminent food crisis, describing
malnutrition rates as "alarming", especially in areas controlled by the

Upon independence, the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (Unmis) was wound
up, and a new mission, Unmiss, was created "to consolidate peace and
security and to help establish conditions for development in South Sudan".
The mission strength authorised by the security council is a maximum of
7,000 military personnel. At present more than 5,500 are deployed (4,900
troops complemented by other uniformed personnel, including police) - this
in a country two and a half times the size of the UK, with multiple hotspots
and a tense border, and where the government has so far been largely unable
to ensure adequate security and administration of justice for its citizens.

Even if the mission was at full strength, its capacity to effectively
protect civilians and support peace would be dwarfed by the enormity of the
challenges confronting it. The
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16381579> most recent violence in
Jonglei saw just a few hundred peacekeepers outnumbered by 6,000 Lou Nuer
fighters, making it almost impossible for them to fulfil their mandate to
protect civilians. The UN mission in the country will clearly need to be
reinforced to ensure greater protection of civilians and to enable Unmiss to
support the new government in its responsibilities for security, governance
and justice.

At the political level, the security council needs to make sure all efforts
are made to prevent a further deterioration of the confrontation between the
two Sudans. While the risk of a full return to war is small in the immediate
term, there is a real danger that fighting over the border will continue to
escalate. In addition, the proxy wars fought through allied militia,
prevalent during the civil war, are starting to resurface in Jonglei and
beyond, with devastating consequences for the civilian population and for
the peace and security of the region.

The international support that made possible the
<http://unmis.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=515> peace agreement of 2005
and the creation of the state of South Sudan is urgently required again to
ensure that the fragility of the two Sudans does not deteriorate further.

Critically, efforts should be made to support the massive humanitarian
operation to reach the displaced in Jonglei state, protect and assist South
Kordofan and Blue Nile refugees in Unity state and in Ethiopia, and persuade
the government of Sudan to reverse its ban on international aid agencies.
Above all, more robust and coherent political action is required regionally
and internationally to help identify solutions to
rendum-2011> outstanding issues between the two countries and bring the
conflict in the border areas to an end.


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Received on Sun Jan 15 2012 - 17:21:36 EST
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