Violence between rival elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition (SPLA-IO) reignited in Juba on 7 July, two days before South Sudan observed the fifth anniversary of its independence. Heavy fighting, including tanks and helicopter gunships, was reported, particularly in the Jebel area near a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base protecting thousands of civilians.
Hundreds of people, including civilians and two UN peacekeepers, were reportedly killed during five days of fighting. At least 42,000 people, mainly women and children, are now displaced in Juba. Two UN compounds were hit by mortar and artillery fire, killing at least eight people and injuring thirty-five others. UNMISS peacekeepers were unable to provide adequate protection to civilians outside of the UN bases during the violence. Ethnic tensions have been exacerbated by officials using hate speech to incite violence. Many civilians attempting to flee to UN bases were reportedly prevented from doing so and some were allegedly subjected to targeted killings.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on 11 July condemning the violence and noting the “leaders of South Sudan have failed their people.” Later that day President Salva Kiir ordered his troops to cease hostilities. First Vice President Riek Machar, leader of the SPLA-IO, subsequently agreed to a truce. Major fighting has subsided since 11 July, but the risk of further armed clashes remains extremely high.
Both parties must uphold their responsibility to protect and adhere to the cessation of hostilities. Both sides must allow unfettered access for UN and humanitarian partners to deliver life-saving assistance to affected populations in Juba.
Consistent with the UN Secretary-General’s recommendations, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect has called on the UN Security Council to take immediate action by: