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South Sudan

Since fighting erupted in Juba in July 2016 and a major rebel faction returned to war, rebel groups have proliferated though conflict is much reduced from its height in 2014. The government’s current strategy can secure Juba but cannot deliver sustainable nationwide peace. Of the millions experiencing hunger due to the conflict’s impact on civilians, the UN declared 100,000 in famine conditions for several months in 2017. Through field-based research and engagement with relevant national, regional and international actors, Crisis Group aims to support humanitarian access and build a new consensus around sustainable peace efforts that address the regionalised nature of the conflict as well as its localised dynamics.

CrisisWatch South Sudan

Deteriorated Situation

Negotiations between President Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar over local power-sharing stalled, raising concerns over stability of unity govt, while ceasefire with holdout rebel groups in south broke down; intercommunal violence persisted. In meeting in capital Juba 13 April, Kiir and Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) failed to reach compromise over appointment of state governors; Machar maintained peace deal entitles SPLA-IO to nominate three governors, while Kiir said only two; Machar 15 April turned down Kiir’s proposal to appoint caretaker governors. Several SPLA-IO members 16 April defected to Kiir, blaming Machar for turning movement into “family dynasty”. Implementation of transitional security arrangements remained stalled after committee overseeing unification of armed groups into single army late-March suspended process to prevent spread of COVID-19. Negotiations between unity govt and opposition coalition, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), which refused to be part of Sept 2018 deal, remained suspended as govt failed to appoint new delegates. Truce brokered in Jan between govt and non-signatory armed groups broke down in Central Equatoria region in south after SSOMA rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) 9 April attacked Machar’s SPLA-IO forces in Kirinya, Yei River County; number of casualties unknown. SPLA-IO and Kiir-aligned South Sudan People’s Defense Forces reportedly clashed with NAS in Yei, Morobo and Kajo Keji counties 26 April, number of casualties unknown. Intercommunal violence continued in several areas, killing at least 65 throughout month. In Abyei region, disputed between South Sudan and Sudan, ethnic Dinka and nomadic Misseriya herders clashed 9-11 April, leaving at least six killed; Sudan and South Sudan 30 April agreed to cooperate to end violence there. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, govt 21 April ordered release of 1,400 inmates to reduce prison overcrowding and extended partial lockdown until further notice.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

8 May 2020
The disagreement between Kiir and Machar has endangered the gains made toward a lasting peace. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
20 Feb 2020
"[South Sudan president Kiir and former rebel leader Machar] still have much to work through, but Machar was unlikely to extract more significant concessions before forming the government. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
16 Feb 2020
[In South Sudan] the dispute over the configuration of states became a major impasse blocking the peace process from moving towards a unity government. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
13 Jan 2020
The U.S. has gone from South Sudan’s chief backer to its main naysayer. Wall Street Journal

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
17 Dec 2019
The intensity of the violence shows just how great South Sudan’s challenges remain even in a best-case scenario of the national peace process solidifying. Bloomberg

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
24 Oct 2019
The South Sudan peace process is at serious risk of derailing following the UNSC visit to Juba. The strategy to simply pressure on Nov 12 deadline has already failed. It’s time to pivot. Twitter

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan

Latest Updates

Video / Africa

Video - A Short Window to Resuscitate South Sudan’s Ailing Peace Deal

Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for South Sudan Alan Boswell recounts what he found during his recent field trip to South Sudan.

Briefing / Africa

Déjà Vu: Preventing Another Collapse in South Sudan

South Sudan’s conflict parties are supposed to form a unity government by 12 November. But key disputes between them remain unresolved. External actors should push the adversaries to make progress on these matters before entering any power-sharing arrangement – lest war erupt once more.

Statement / Africa

A Critical Six Months for South Sudan

South Sudan’s rival parties have temporarily salvaged prospects for peace, agreeing a six-month deadline extension to allow for the formation of a unity government. But the country’s external partners must sustain pressure on both sides to preserve a ceasefire and maintain consensus on a path forward.

Report / Africa

Salvaging South Sudan’s Fragile Peace Deal

The truce in South Sudan is holding but could break down at any time. To stave off renewed civil war, external actors should urge the belligerents to strike new bargains on security and internal boundaries – and accept a third-party protection force for the capital.

Commentary / Africa

Eight Priorities for the African Union in 2019

In 2019, the African Union faces many challenges, with conflicts old and new simmering across the continent. To help resolve these crises – our annual survey lists seven particularly pressing ones – the regional organisation should also push ahead with institutional reforms.

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Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan