New militias emerge in South Sudan conflict, observers say

2017-02-10 22:33

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - New militia groups, some "opportunists", others "downright criminal", have emerged in South Sudan since renewed violence erupted there last July, the head of an international ceasefire monitoring team said on Friday.

Talking to the press in Nairobi, Festus Mogae, a former president of Botswana who leads the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), said these new rebel groups "did not exist before."

He also expressed fears of renewed ethnic violence.

Mogae said the new militias formed after violent clashes broke out in the region of the capital Juba, forcing more than 10 000 people to seek refuge at a UN base at the time.

"Some are opportunists, others are downright criminals, because of the shortage of food," Mogae said. "There are allegations that some groups are targeting Dinkas."

War broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, pitting the country's majority Dinka tribe of President Salva Kiir against his former vice-president Riek Machar and his Nuer tribe supporters.

Observers said it later metastasised with other tribes joining one side or the other, often with the hope of getting an upper hand in local conflicts over land and other issues.

A peace agreement signed two and a half years later raised hopes of an end to the conflict, but the deal's implementation lasted just over two months.

"The government of national unity is functioning with inadequate representation," Mogae said. "The government has to be more inclusive. It must include more of Riek Machar's people."

After its outbreak in Juba, the war was largely restricted to the northern states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei but in the past six months it has expanded into the southern Equatoria region surrounding Juba.

Ethnic killings also intensified, particularly in and around the southern town of Yei, pushing tens of thousands of people to seek refuge in neighbouring Uganda.

Dinka troops were accused of driving the atrocities, which drew the attention of the international community. It led UN experts in early December to report "ethnic cleansing" in several parts of South Sudan.

On Friday, Mogae described a complicated network of rebel groups with different agendas joining the conflict, evidence of the complexity of the civil war in South Sudan.

Some of the groups, said Mogae, are driven by revenge along ethnic lines, others feel marginalised and excluded by the peace deal, which largely brought together Kiir's Dinkas and Machar's Nuers.

The rest are simply criminals, he added, intent on looting humanitarian aid.

"This is why we are saying to the government: do something," Mogae said. "These people are nationals. The people of Equatoria are South Sudanese, they have legitimate grievances that the government must address."

South Sudan gained independence in 2011, but the conflict escalated into a humanitarian crisis where more than six million people - half of South Sudan's population - are in need of urgent aid, the United Nations has reported.

Humanitarian organisations expect this number to rise by 20 to 30% in 2017.

Read more on:    riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Chocolate can be fatal for dogs

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that is similar to caffeine and is toxic to dogs at certain levels.

 
 

Paws

Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Watch: Proof animals have souls
Would you clone your pet?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.