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Between war and famine, South Sudan seems ready to explode

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Tuesday has dismissed one of the most powerful figures in his power apparatus: the head of the armed forces, Paul Malong, without giving any official motivation for the decision.

Malong has not issued any statement after his expulsion from the executive, he was limited to leaving Juba’s capital following a military convoy to head to the northwestern state of Aweil. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk announced the appointment of General James Ajong as the new head of the Sudanese armed forces.

Malong’s dismissal, following that of several senior officers and officials in recent weeks, is a profound split within the Kiir regime, while tension continues to rise throughout the territory, as demonstrated by the attack on Monday against the convoy of Vice-President, Taban Deng Gai, on the increasingly dangerous road to Bor, in the central state of Jonglei.

Increases dissent against President Kiir

The people are also expressing their disagreement with President Kiir, accused of having brought South Sudan to the brink of collapse. On Monday, many students and ordinary citizens came down the streets of Juba to protest against government policies that have led to collapse in the country’s economy.

The downfall of the Sudanese Pound (SSP) compared to foreign currencies has caused a surge in primary goods, as well as an increase in taxes and utility tariffs in residential areas.

While in the last few weeks, rumours and testimonies have been raised about alleged ethnic violence committed within the country, in particular, by government militias.

The hyperinflation, the drought that struck East Africa and the war between the Dinka militia loyal to the President Kiir and those of Nuer faithful of former Vice President Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, contributed to the famine escalation in some South Sudan’s Rural states, which now faces one of the most serious African migratory crisis recorded after Rwandan genocide of 1994.

More than one million children flee South Sudan violence

Since the beginning of the conflict, broke out in December 2013, more than 1,8 million people have been forced to flee and have requested asylum in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan to escape violence and hunger.

The most alarming information is about the children are becoming the decisive face of this emergency. According to the latest UNHCR data, they account for 62% of over one 1,8 million refugees from South Sudan, while another 400,000 live in refugee camps in the country.

The UN agency reports that there are over a thousand children who were killed or injured since the beginning of the conflict, costing tens of thousands of lives. Over 75,000 children fled to Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia have crossed the border by themselves.

International humanitarian agencies are working in a difficult, often hostile environment where 82 humanitarian workers were killed since the outbreak of the crisis. Juba’s government also increased registration fees for NGOs operating in the country. Foreigners NGOs will have to pay US $ 3,500 for the period 2017-2018, where as the local ones US $ 500 instead of 450.

The useless attempts to reach a peace agreement

A good part of the country is fallen prey to anarchy and tribal ethnic clashes. At the same time, the numerous ceasefire agreements reached under the auspices of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority for Development) negotiators, the regional organization committed to finding a solution to the Sudanese crisis, were all disregarded.

Including the last one signed in August 2015 first by Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa and then by Riek Machar in Juba, which seemed to differ from previous neverhonoured peace treaties.

The agreement appeared to have triggered an effective exit process from the crisis towards sustainable and lasting peace, with the formation of a new national unity government, which also included the gradual repatriation of members of the opposition armed faction led by Machar .

But the repeated difficulties encountered in the formation of the new government by IGAD-led negotiators and the wave of violence that broke out in July last year in Juba and widespread in theEquatoriaregion, so far practically not affected by the civil war, have completely submerged the hopes of pacification.

In addition to the sectarian rivalry, behind the outbreak of the conflictthere are also the great riches of southern Sudan, especially oil, particularly abundant in the northern federal states.

That is juston the intense violence that have emerged in this area that outlines the economic interests hidden behind tribal sectarianism. Interest which are only one of the reasons to decipher what is happening in a nation that depends on 60% of the oil revenues. And despite its wealth, it is one of the poorest in the world.

@afrofocus

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