The Place Where God Weeps…
The situation in South Sudan is sinking deeper into an all-out ethnic crisis. South Sudan watchers and analysts are watching the country very closely as the current fighting is showing early warnings of a great problem – ethnic genocide. Recent fighting in the world’s newest nation is refocusing attention of the international community.
The situation in South Sudan is no longer one of the top stories in the headlines. New international issues have taken the interest of Americans and most of the world. Russia’s land grab in Ukraine and the missing Malaysian flight has dominated the mainstream media. On the more “fair and balance” networks, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “bridgegate” and the roll out of Obamacare are on hourly rotations. South Sudan has returned to its place in the pecking order – out of sight and out of mind. But the situation in the world’s newest nation is unstable and a peaceful end to the conflict is uncertain.
Despite the fact that the two sides fighting in South Sudan have signed a cessation of hostilities, fighting continues in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity States. Last week, it was reported that the SPLM/N-in-Opposition (the rebels) had attacked Bentiu. Bentiu is the capital of Unity State, an oil rich region in the north of South Sudan. The leaders of the opposition group stated that they wanted to cut off the government’s access to oil. South Sudan is very reliant on the cash they received from oil production. The fear is that if the opposition cuts off the oil supply, then the government will not be able to pay soldiers who in turn will not fight for the government. The situation is becoming dire for the entire country.
The events following the fall of Bentiu have sadly gotten the attention of the international community. The United Nations is reporting that gunmen associated with the rebels separated civilians by ethnic tribe and began a horrific killing rampage that has left over 400 South Sudanese dead. Messages were broadcasted over the radio urging certain groups to leave town and instructing men to commit crimes against women of a non-Nuer tribes. In one mosque where citizens sought refuge from the fighting, over 200 people were killed and another 400 wounded. The senseless killings in South Sudan are heartbreaking and sinking the country closer to an ethnic civil war. While the crisis in the country started as a political disagreement within the ruling party, the killings between the two sides have fallen along ethnic tribal lines. The international community has been engaged with the peace talks taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but have kept a distance from the events inside of South Sudan. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed an executive order opening the door for sanctions against leaders who are delaying the peace process. The recent fighting and senseless killing in Unity State should start the ball rolling towards sanctions in South Sudan. The United Nations has estimated that more than one million South Sudanese have been displaced by the fighting in the country. UN camps have been overwhelmed by the number of people flooding into their compounds.