There are not enough UN peacekeepers to protect refugee camps, monitor ceasefire violations in South Sudan and monitor the Sudan-South Sudan border. When the South Sudan civil war began in December 2013, frightened civilians took shelter near UN compounds, particularly those housing UN peacekeepers. The compounds were de facto refugee camps. UN bureaucrats dubbed several of them POCs, sites for the “Protection of Civilians.” Estimates for the number of refugees in and near POCs range from 160,000 to 190,000. Refugees have concluded that proximity to UN soldiers matters. They can react quickly, at least that’s the assumption. However, refugee aid organizations point at that many POCs are poorly secured. Tribal militia gunmen operate in the camps. The UN says it does not have the personnel to police the POCs, and that’s true. The UN has been criticized for its failure to protect civilians during the February 18 battle at the UN camp in Malakal (Upper Nile state). However, the incident also supports UN peacekeeping officials who say the UN is short troops. The February 18 incident began with a firefight between militia gunmen. UN peacekeepers responded, most of them from a Rwandan Army unit and 41 people died in the incident. Part of the camp was burned. UN investigators reported that there is evidence the attack was planned by a Dinka militia. Some refugees told investigators that Rwandan soldiers shot five innocent civilians who were fleeing the battle. The shooting by the Rwandans was likely an accident. The scene was chaotic. But refugee aid groups say it was an accident waiting to happen and will likely happen again unless the camps are secured. Most of the militia gunmen quit fighting once the peacekeepers entered the camp, confronted gunmen and opened fire. However, the militia gunmen were not wearing uniforms and intermittent shooting continued. The peacekeepers did not have enough soldiers to secure the camp, combat the gunmen and protect firefighters who were trying to fight the fires inside the camp. (Austin Bay)
March 30, 2016: Sporadic fighting continued in South Sudan’s Unity state. Government forces killed two cattle raiders in what the South Sudan government now calls Northern Liech state. Rebels on the road between Leer county and Bentiu ambushed a car and killed three people. Unidentified gunmen in Mayendit country attacked a car belonging to a senior state administrator and killed four people.
March 29, 2016: South Sudan rebels accuse the army of preparing to conduct new attacks in Unity state mainly in Leer and Mayendit counties.
The Sudan army claimed that its forces recaptured a strategic position near Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan state. There the troops drove SPLM-N gunmen from their position in Um Serdibah. The army also claimed its troops repelled an SPLM-N attack at Karkakaia. And killed 55 rebels during that battle.
March 28, 2016: South Sudan rebels sent 39 of their soldiers to the capital (Juba). These are the first of 1,370 rebel soldiers and police in Juba. The peace agreement permits 2,910.
March 24, 2016: The South Sudan accused the Sudanese Air Force of using one of their Antonov transports to drop 12 bombs on South Sudan soldiers in Upper Nile state.
March 22, 2016: Sudan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently agreed to a program of joint military cooperation. This involves security and training cooperation. Fighting in Yemen has strained Sudan’s security ties with Iran. It appears the UAE is offering an alternative.
The South Sudan government denied reports that it has made concessions to Sudan regarding the status of the disputed Abyei region. South Sudan reiterated that the Ngok Dinka are Abyei’s native inhabitants and they will decide on the region’s status.
March 20, 2016: A fight between two Nuer tribe youth gangs at a UN POC in Juba (capital of South Sudan) killed one person and wounded at least 60. The young men used stones, knives, pangas (machete-like knives) and martial art stick weapons. UN police used tear gas to break up the fight.
March 18, 2016: Sudan and representatives of rebel groups from Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan began a round of consultations in Ethiopia. The AU (African Union) is sponsoring this peace effort along with the EU, Germany, Norway and the United States. Rebels represented include JEM and SLM-MM (which is doing the negotiating for rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states).
March 18, 2016: South Sudan rebels (SPLM-IO) said the government’s decision to establish 28 states in South Sudan is a waste of resources and time. Implementing the decision is expensive and South Sudan does not have the money. Moreover, it violates the August 2015 peace agreement. South Sudan had ten states, and as far as the SPLM-IO is concerned, it still does.
March 17, 2016: The SPLM-N said that its forces had shot down a Sudanese UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) in South Kordofan state. The SPLM-N claimed that the UAV was conducting reconnaissance for Sudanese Air Force air strikes.
March 16, 2016: Unidentified masked gunmen in Sudan’s West Darfur state killed a senior Chadian military officer serving with the Joint Sudanese-Chadian border patrol force. The gunmen escaped. The joint border patrol force was established in 2010 to monitor rebel activity along the Chad-Sudan border.
Observers with the Ceasefire and Transitional Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) in South Sudan reported that both rebel and government forces fought fives times between the end of December 2015 and the beginning of March 2016. These incidents violated the ceasefire and the more obvious (large scale) violations. Observers said that there were reports of eight major incidents, but they could only confirm five. The violations occurred in Western Equatoria, Western Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile states.
March 15, 2016: Sudan rejected a demand by the SPLM-N that the government and rebels reach a separate humanitarian aid agreement for Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The SPLM-N said a humanitarian aid agreement would permit the direct delivery of food and medical assistance to civilians in rebel zones and pave the way for peace talks.
March 14, 2016: The UN estimates that the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan’s Unity state currently has 71,000 refugees, a majority of them from Sudan. They fled fighting in the Nuba Hills (in Sudan’s South Kordofan state). In February the UN announced that the camp would be closed in June 2016. UN administrators --who described Yida as “congested” in 2013-- want to move the refugees to a camp at Ajuong Thok (also in Unity state). The UN is promising the refugees that many of them will be housed in another camp near Pamir. However, the Pamir camp has yet to be built. Yida refugees are resisting the move. Yida is unusual in that is has essentially become an expatriate South Kordofan city. Refugees have established a market at Yida and they farm nearby land. The refugees point out that they have local water resources. The UN says it has security concerns about the camp, beginning with its proximity to the Sudan-South Sudan border (about 15 kilometers). The Sudan government occasionally accuses the Yida camp of harboring rebels. In November 2011 the Sudanese Air Force twice bombed Yida and camp residents insist they are not harboring rebels who are fighting the Sudan government in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Everyone agrees that fighters the JEM rebel group entered the camp in late 2013 after the South Sudan civil war erupted. However, both South Sudanese rebel forces and the South Sudan Army ordered the Darfur rebels to leave. And they left. (Austin Bay)
March 13, 2016: South Africa announced that it withdraw its troops from the UN Darfur peacekeeping force effective April 1. South African forces have been serving in Darfur since 2004.
March 13, 2016: Sudan accused Darfur rebels (SLM-AW) of causing the current fighting in the Jebel Marra area that straddles North and South Darfur states.
March 12, 2016: The UN accused South Sudan’s military of letting allied militiamen commit rape. The UN report claimed that the military lets militiamen commit rape as a way to pay them for serving in a militia.
March 11, 2016: The eldest son of the founder of the South Sudan’s military, Mabior Garang, accused the government of launching new attacks on rebel positions in Upper Nile state. Mabior Garang is a Dinka but now serves as a rebel spokesman.
March 10, 2016: A South African UN peacekeeper was killed in an ambush in North Darfur state. Another South African soldier was wounded. Both of the soldiers were in the 8th South African Infantry Battalion.