south sudan

January 15, 2014

Joseph Kony has been called Africa’s most wanted man, and for good reason: Over the past 27 years, he has led a rebel militia of child soldiers that is responsible for the death of more than 100,000 people and the kidnapping of some 50,000 young boys and girls. From 1986 to 2006, Kony savaged northern Uganda, terrorizing defenseless villages. But after losing clandestine support from Sudan and refuge in neighboring South Sudan, he took his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and began peace talks with the Ugandan government.

Ever since fighting began in South Sudan a month ago, social media has played an important role - as a source of practical information, sharing news, and as a kind of support network. It may sound unlikely in a country in the midst of fighting that has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced thousands more, but over the past three days there have been hundreds of tweets using the hashtag #ThingsIloveaboutSouthSudan - praising things like the food, local customs and the hospitality

January 11, 2014

The town of Bor has already changed hands three times in South Sudan's three weeks of civil war, and whoever controls the strategically important state capital will have the upper hand in the long-awaited peace negotiations. VICE was invited to embed with South Sudanese government forces pushing north to retake Bor from the rebels, but the rebels were lying in wait for us along the road, waiting to strike back.

It is time to divest ourselves of all our romantic delusions about South Sudan. We were all so focused on helping the South escape the repressive colonial clutches of Khartoum that we forgot about the need to prepare the South Sudanese people for self-government. Of all the African countries that came to independence since 1950, South Sudan has had the least amount of preparation.

It is an absolute certainty that 2014 will be a turbulent year for the United Nations. The organization is struggling with crises ranging from the chaos in the Central African Republic (CAR) to the plight of Syrian refugees. There is little hope that these challenges will dissipate soon. Yet two sets of peace talks this month could well decide whether the U.N. faces a truly dreadful year ahead, or just a very difficult one.

The South Sudanese government and representatives of rebel forces met for the formal opening of peace talks Saturday evening in Ethiopia, part of the diplomatic effort to halt weeks of fighting in the young nation. The two delegations met separately with mediators at a hotel in Addis Ababa to pin down the points they would negotiate. Both sides then gathered with Ethiopia’s foreign minister for a ceremony to mark the official start of the talks, with more substantive bargaining expected Sunday.

Aid agencies have warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan, where fighting continues in spite of the crisis talks currently under way in neighbouring Ethiopia. On Thursday, as the government accused rebel forces of forcibly recruiting civilians for their attempt to march on the capital, humanitarian agencies warned that tens of thousands of refugees were without food, water or shelter.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said Tuesday it has "mounting evidence" that serious human rights abuses, including targeted ethnic killings, have been committed in the world's newest nation in the 16 days since violence broke out in Juba. The alleged atrocities include extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers, massive displacements and arbitrary detentions, often on ethnic grounds, UNMISS said in a statement.