Update June 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 5, June 2022
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There has been a decrease in violence in South Sudan. May showed the lowest number of violent incidents since the start of the year and a sharp decrease in fatalities when compared to April.[1] However, communal violence and cattle raids continued throughout the country. In Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei, clashes between cattle raiders and cattle owners killed many and displaced hundreds, thousands of cattle stolen.[2] Between 7 and 13 May, gunmen attacked Bor Dinka pastoralists in Eastern Equatoria, at least 20 were killed and thousands of cattle stolen. The Bor Dinka retaliated by looting property and killing two police officers. In Warrap state, fighting between local and Bul Nuer militias resulted in over a score of fatalities. Clashes between Twic Dinka and Ngok Dinka clans recurred in the disputed Abyei area.[3] Violence surged in Leer County, Unity State, during the third week of May due to clashes between Haak and Jagei Nuer militias against Dok Nuer militias.[4] During the last week of the month, gunmen attacked local authorities in Unity State.[5] In Jonglei a state government official’s convoy was attacked, with Ayod County commissioner blaming SPLM-IO.[6] Suspected Murle cattle raiders killed at least two civilians in Mangalla Payam of Central Equatoria State.[7] Three teenagers were brutally killed by South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) soldiers in Kiri village, Central Equatoria state, at least five soldiers were arrested.[8] Edmund Yakani, an prominent South Sudanese activist warned events such like these may lead to genocide, and urged the government to make prevention of genocide its top priority.[9] President Kiir responded by ordering an investigation of the conflicts.[10]

The Misseriya and Ngok Dinka signed a peace accord reiterating their commitment to achieving lasting peace in Abyei, on 19 May. Both parties called on UNISFA to fully implement its mandate and protect civilians in the area.[11]

Recent information shows that cases of conflict related sexual violence cases have more than doubled compared to last year, despite an overall decrease in violence against civilians. Between January and March 2022, UNMISS recorded 63 cases up from 28 cases during that same period in 2021. Sexual violence constitutes 64% of cases of violence against civlians, Jonglei, Eastern Equatoria, and Warrap states are the most affected.[12]


South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Two years later, a political crisis erupted and turned into a civil war that took on an ethnic tone. The conflict quickly spread throughout the country, civilians were targeted on the basis of their ethnicity and/or perceived political affiliation, almost 400,000 people lost their lives during that time. All parties to the conflict committed rape and sexual violence, destroyed property and looted villages, and recruited children into their ranks. A mediation conducted by Uganda and Sudan in 2018 led the two main belligerents, Kiir and Machar to reach a peace deal to end the war.

Violence has fuelled famine and food insecurity in the country and caused large-scale displacement of civilians inside and outside its borders. In February 2020, two years after signing President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former Vice President Riek Machar agreed on implementing the 2018 Revitalised Agreement, yet they have been slow to execute many of its provisions.

International response:

The UNSC renewed the arms embargo against the country after the Panel of Experts recommended its renewal despite the government’s request otherwise. The Council also renewed targeted sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes and the mission of the Panel of Experts for another year.[13] In addition, on 12 May 2022, the UN Security Council issued a resolution on Sudan and South Sudan renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for another year and urgin an immediate cessation of violence.[14]

Following the clashes in Adok Port in April, a joint delegation comprising the AU, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC), the EU, the Troika and UNMISS conducted a mission to Unity State on 12 May 2022, and called on authorities to take further measures to protect civilians and to address the root causes of the conflict.[15]

[1] ACLED data

[2] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 26 April – 6 May, 12 May 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/05/12/regional-overview-africa-23-april-6-may-2022/

[3] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 7-13 May 2022, 19 May 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/05/19/regional-overview-africa-7-13-may-2022/

[4] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 14-20 May 2022, 26 May 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/05/26/regional-overview-africa-14-20-may-2022/

[5] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 21-27 May 2022, 1 June 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/06/01/regional-overview-africa-21-27-may-2022/

[6] Sudan’s Post, “Top government official survives ambush,” 28 May 2022, https://www.sudanspost.com/top-government-official-survives-ambush/

[7] Sudan’s Post, “2 people killed, 3 injured in Terekeka cattle raid,” 26 May 2022, https://www.sudanspost.com/2-people-killed-3-injured-in-terekeka-cattle-raid/

[8] Sudan’s Post, “5 soldiers linked to killing of 3 civilians in Kajo-Keji arrested as calm returns,” 29 May 2022, https://www.sudanspost.com/5-soldiers-linked-to-killing-of-3-civilians-in-kajo-keji-arrest-as-calm-returns/

[9] Sudan’s Post, “South Sudan government told mitigation of genocide should be top priority,” 29 May 2022, https://www.sudanspost.com/south-sudan-government-told-mitigation-of-genocide-should-be-top-priority/

[10] Sudan’s Post, “Kiir tasks Council of States with resolving sub-national violence,” 25 May 2022, https://www.sudanspost.com/kiir-tasks-council-of-states-with-resolving-sub-national-violence/

[11] UNISFA, UNISFA brokers peace accord between the two communities in Abyei, 20 May 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/unisfa-brokers-peace-accord-between-two-communities-abyei

[12] UN MISS, Press release amidst a decrease in violence against civiliansin South Sudan, a surge in conflict-related sexual violence, 10 May 2022, https://unmiss.unmissions.org/press-release-amidst-decrease-violence-against-civilians-south-sudan-surge-conflict-related-sexual

[13] Radio Tamazuj, “UN Security Council renews arms embargo on South Sudan,” 26 May 2022, https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/un-security-council-renews-arms-embargo-on-south-sudan

[14] UNSC Resolution 2630, 12 May 2022, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N22/347/31/PDF/N2234731.pdf?OpenElement

[15] UNMISS, Joint statement by AU R-JMEC, ADC, EU, Troika and UNMISS on the situation in Unity State, 18 May 2022, https://unmiss.unmissions.org/joint-statement-au-r-jmec-adc-eu-troika-and-unmiss-situation-unity-state