Update May 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 4, May 2022
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Violence continued in South Sudan at similar levels to prior months, according to ACLED data. After increasing tensions throughout March and pressure from donors and international partners, Kiir and Machar met on 8 April to discuss the revitalisation of the integration of security services. Machar submitted a list of officers to be absorbed into government security services. On 12 April, Kiir ordered these officers to be officially integrated into a unified command of the army. The details of the integration at lower levels remain to be worked out.[1]

The UN mission in South Sudan condemned violations in Unity State, reporting that between 17 February and 7 April, 72 civilians were killed, 11 were injured and 64 cases of sexual violence were reported in Leer County.[2] Among those killed was a local staff member of Médecins Sans Frontières.[3]

Like much of the rest of the region, South Sudan is facing a humanitarian crisis. The combined impact of climate change and conflict is expected to leave nine million people, or two thirds of the population, in need of humanitarian assistance by the end of the year.[4] As elsewhere, deprivation may exacerbate the impact of conflict and the vulnerability of the population to mass atrocity.


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

On 22 and 23 April, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Ms. Sara Beysolow Nyanti led a high-level mission to Bentiu and Malakal and sought to draw attention to the dire humanitarian situation.[5]

The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) deployed additional peacekeepers to Leer County, in response to the recent wave of violations there.[6]

The UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan on 28 April submitted a report to the UN Security Council arguing that the 2018 Revitalised Peace Agreement has become part of the conflict in South Sudan, and the parties hold nearly every component hostage as part of their political consultations. In addition, the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa briefed the Council on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan, pointing out that joint Sudanese/South Sudanese mechanisms had been disrupted by the 25 October coup.[7]

[1] Al Jazeera, “South Sudan President Kiir integrates rival’s officers into army,” 13 April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/13/south-sudan-president-kiir-integrates-rivals-officers-into-army

[2] UN News, “UN Condemns ‘Horrific’ Surge of Violence in South Sudan,” 25 April 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202204260071.html?utm_campaign=daily-headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=aans-view-link

[3] Deng Machol, “Dozens killed in violence in one volatile South Sudan county,” ABC News, 25 April 2022, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/dozens-killed-violence-volatile-south-sudan-county-84296111

[4] AFP, “UN says nine million in need of aid in South Sudan,” 14 April 2022, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220414-un-says-nine-million-in-need-of-aid-in-south-sudan

[5] UNOCHA, “Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan condemns the latest violence against civilians, women and humanitarian personnel,” 25 April 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/humanitarian-coordinator-south-sudan-condemns-latest-violence-against-civilians

[6] UN News, “UN condemns ‘horrific’ surge of violence in South Sudan,” 25 April 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1116862

[7] UN DPPA, “Tetteh: Sudan and South Sudan continue to complement one another in the search for peace,” 27 April 2022, https://dppa.un.org/en/tetteh-sudan-and-south-sudan-continue-to-complement-one-another-search-peace