South Sudan’s fragile peace imperiled by chaos across the border in Sudan

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People flee the violence in Sudan using trucks, buses, cars and horse-drawn carts. The exodus threatens to aggravate the already dire situation of refugee camps in neighboring South Sudan. (AFP)
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Fighters of the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on the move in the East Nile district of greater Khartoum on April 23, 2023. (AFP)
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A convoy leaves Khartoum toward Port Sudan on April 23, 2023, as people flee the battle-torn Sudanese capital. (AFP)
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People gather to ride trucks in Khartoum as they leave the Sudanese capital on April 26, 2023, amid fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 May 2023

South Sudan’s fragile peace imperiled by chaos across the border in Sudan

  • Government and military officials wary of economic and security costs of prolonged crisis to the north
  • Analysts say former rebel groups could be dragged into the conflict, undermining the nation’s fragile peace

JUBA, South Sudan: The government of South Sudan has expressed deep concern over the fighting in neighboring Sudan, which it fears could spill across the border and threaten its fragile peace process.

The clashes between the Sudanese army and a paramilitary group in Khartoum hold the potential to ignite a civil war, into which neighboring South Sudan could get sucked.

Camps for internally displaced people in South Sudan, such as this one in the northern city of Bentiu, risk being swamped further by people fleeing the war in neighboring Sudan. (AFP)

There have been multiple truce efforts since fighting broke out on April 15 between Sudan’s army led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces commanded by his deputy turned rival, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

As close neighbors, with a long history of conflict and interdependence, any instability or escalation of violence in Sudan is likely to spill over into South Sudan, with potentially dire consequences.

One major concern for South Sudanese officials is the potential economic impact of a prolonged conflict to the north.

Sudan exports crude oil produced by South Sudan. Any disruption to this trade arrangement could lead to economic instability for the young republic, which has already suffered the knock-on effects of recent tribal uprisings in eastern Sudan.


2011 South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9.

11 million Estimated South Sudanese citizens in need of humanitarian assistanc2e.

$1,600 Real gross domestic product per capita (2017).

On Friday, the price of South Sudan’s oil exports fell from $100 per barrel to $70. Michael Makuei, the country’s information minister, accused oil companies of exploiting the crisis to drive down prices. Experts say the situation in Sudan could have long-term implications for South Sudan’s oil industry.

“The situation is alarming, as any spillover from Sudan will be a very big issue for us here and this is why President Salva Kiir has been calling for a ceasefire so that normalcy returns to Sudan,” Deng Dau Deng Malek, acting minister of foreign affairs, told Arab News.



“South Sudan is very concerned about the situation in Sudan, especially given our shared border and historical ties. Any escalation of conflict in Sudan could have serious consequences for our country.”

Maj. Gen. Charles Machieng Kuol, a senior military officer in South Sudan, also weighed in on the potential harm that a prolonged conflict might cause, emphasizing the need for stability in the region.

“We have forces which have been deployed along the borders before,” he told Arab News. “Our country is preparing now to protect the borderlines, as we don’t want this war to escalate to our country.”

Sudan has lived through multiple civil wars since gaining independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956.

Its first north-south civil war broke out several months before independence on Jan. 1, 1956 and lasted until 1972. It pitted successive governments in the Muslim-dominated north against separatist rebels in the predominantly Christian south.

The 17-year conflict ended with a treaty under which the south was granted autonomy. However, the agreement collapsed in 1983 after 11 years of relative peace when President Jaafar Nimeiri decided to revoke the south’s autonomous status.

Sudan’s second civil war erupted in 1983 following an uprising by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army led by John Garang. In 1989, Omar Al-Bashir took power in a coup and cracked down on the southern rebellion.

Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's former ruler, waves a walking stick during a visit in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur province on September 21, 2017. He was accompanied by paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (L). (AFP File)

he war ended on Jan. 9, 2005, when Garang signed a peace accord with Al-Bashir’s government. The cornerstone of the accord was a protocol granting it six years of self-rule ahead of a 2011 referendum on whether to remain part of Sudan or secede.

South Sudan proclaimed independence on July 9, 2011, splitting Africa’s biggest country in two. As South Sudan separated, conflict resumed in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile in the rump state of Sudan in areas held by former guerrillas, now called the SPLM-North.


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The presence of these former South Sudanese rebels close to the shared border complicates the current crisis, as they could easily be dragged into the conflict.

Manasseh Zindo, an independent analyst from South Sudan and a former delegate to the South Sudan peace process, says the involvement of these rebel leaders could have catastrophic implications for the security of South Sudan.



“Malik Agar is the leader of the SPLM-North. He is from the Blue Nile State near the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. He was part of South Sudan during the liberation struggle,” Zindo told Arab News.

“After the secession of South Sudan, the boundary delineation put him in Sudan. He is now part of the sovereign government in Khartoum. If he takes sides in the current conflict in Sudan, it could spill into South Sudan because of his links with South Sudan.”

Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual and Gen. Johnson Olony, two South Sudanese military officials who have shifted allegiance between different factions, are also based close to the Sudanese border.

Both men are leaders of SPLM-IO Kitgwang, a faction that broke away from Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO.

Rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), a South Sudanese anti-government force, patrol in their base in Panyume, on the South Sudanese side of the border with Uganda. (AFP File)

“If Gen. Simon or Gen. Johnson can be dragged into the Sudanese conflict, it can spill into South Sudan with catastrophic implications for the security of South Sudan,” said Zindo.

The South Sudanese government is now on high alert and has urged citizens living close to the border to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities. It has also called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sudan, adding that it is willing to play the role of mediator if both parties agree.

“The president (Salva Kiir) has been calling for a ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities for humanitarian assistance to reach the needy,” said Deng Malek, the acting minister of foreign affairs.

“He talked directly to President Al-Burhan and Deputy President Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo a number of times to appeal to them so that they observe the cessation of hostilities and return to the negotiation table.”

In this picture taken on August 17, 2019, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit is seated next to  
General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan (front left) during a ceremony to sign an agreement paving the way for a transition to civilian rule. Kiir has appealed to Al-Burhan and rival general Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo to stop fighting and resolve their problems peacefully. (AFP)

The UN and other international bodies have also expressed concern about the situation in Sudan and its potential impact on South Sudan. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says the conflict in Sudan has already forced thousands of people to flee into South Sudan, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation.

South Sudan is still recovering from a six-year civil war that ended in 2018, which left more than 380,000 people dead and displaced millions. The country is now trying to implement a peace agreement that was signed in September 2018, but progress has been slow, with sporadic clashes reported in different parts of the country.

As the situation deteriorates, Sudanese refugees are flooding across the border into South Sudan. International aid agencies are calling for urgent action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

According to UNHCR, there are currently more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees in Sudan, a quarter of whom are in Khartoum and directly impacted by the fighting.

Egypt, Sudan’s northern neighbor, said on Thursday that at least 14,000 Sudanese refugees had crossed its border since the fighting erupted, as well as 2,000 people from 50 other countries.

At least 20,000 people have escaped into Chad, 4,000 into South Sudan, 3,500 into Ethiopia and 3,000 into the Central African Republic, according to the UN, which warns that if the fighting continues as many as 270,000 people could flee.

Gavin Kelleher, a humanitarian analyst for the Norwegian Refugee Council in South Sudan, said that the country is ill-prepared to absorb the expected influx from the north.



“The number of new arrivals is still unclear, but they are very likely to continue to increase in the coming weeks and it’s really important that we put the wheels in motion now for an effective humanitarian response,” Kelleher told Arab News.

“About 75 percent of South Sudan’s population are assessed to be in need of humanitarian assistance already, and the majority of the country has emergency or critical levels of food insecurity.

“Further shocks such as waves of new arrivals from Sudan are stretching the limited amount of resources available to new levels.”


At least 23 Indian soldiers missing in flash flood

Updated 04 October 2023

At least 23 Indian soldiers missing in flash flood

  • Intense rainfall triggers flash flood through valley in India’s mountainous northeast Sikkim state 
  • Flash floods are common during the monsoon season, which begins in June and ends in September

Guwahati, India: The Indian army said Wednesday that 23 soldiers were missing after a flash flood caused by intense rainfall tore through a valley in the mountainous northeast Sikkim state.

A video released by an Indian army spokesman showed a thick torrent of raging brown water sweeping down a thickly forested valley, with roads washed away and power lines ripped down.

“Due to sudden cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim, a flash flood occurred in the Teesta River... 23 personnel have been reported missing and some vehicles are reported submerged under the slush,” the army said in a statement. “Search operations are underway.”

Lhonak Lake sits at the base of a glacier in the peaks that surround Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain.

The army said water released upstream from the Chungthang dam meant the river was already more than 4.5 meters (15 feet) higher than usual.

Local media reported that three civilians had died after water smashed into homes overnight, with their bodies recovered from the town of Singtam on Wednesday.

Sikkim is close to India’s border with Nepal and China and boasts a sizeable military presence.

India has been wary of its northern neighbor’s growing military assertiveness and their 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) shared frontier has been a perennial source of tension, with parts of Sikkim claimed by Beijing.

Clashes in January 2021 left injuries on both sides in Naku La pass, which connects Sikkim with Tibet on the Chinese side.

China and India, who fought a border war in 1962, have posted tens of thousands of troops into border zones.

Flash floods are common during the monsoon season, which begins in June and normally withdraws from the Indian subcontinent by the end of September. By October, the heaviest of the monsoon rains are usually over.

Experts say climate change is increasing their frequency and severity.

Other photographs shared by the army showed water submerging the first floor of buildings, and flowing down a street in a town with only the tip of a small construction crane visible.

Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said emergency services were working to support those impacted by the ferocious floods and urged people to “remain vigilant.”

Six bridges were washed away and the national highway that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country was badly damaged, state disaster management chief Prabhakar Rai said.

The monsoon occurs when summer heat warms the landmass of the subcontinent, causing the air to rise and suck in cooler Indian Ocean winds, which then produce enormous volumes of rain.

It brings destruction every year in the form of landslides and floods.

Melting glaciers add to the volume of water while unregulated construction in flood-prone areas exacerbates the damage.

Himalayan glaciers are melting faster than ever due to climate change, exposing communities to unpredictable and costly disasters.

Glaciers disappeared 65 percent faster from 2011 to 2020 compared with the previous decade, a report in June by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development warned.

Based on current emissions trajectories, the glaciers could lose up to 80 percent of their current volume by the end of the century, it said.

Taiwan cancels flights, shuts schools ahead of typhoon

Updated 04 October 2023

Taiwan cancels flights, shuts schools ahead of typhoon

  • Taiwan experiences frequent tropical storms from May to November but last month’s Typhoon Haikui was the first to slam into it in four years

TAITUNG, Taiwan: Taiwan canceled flights and closed schools in parts of its southern region on Wednesday ahead of Typhoon Koinu’s expected landfall, the second major storm to make a direct hit on the island in a month.
Taiwan experiences frequent tropical storms from May to November but last month’s Typhoon Haikui was the first to slam into it in four years – unleashing torrential rains, high winds and forcing nearly 8,000 people to evacuate from their homes.
Experts say climate change has made the paths of tropical storms harder to forecast while increasing their intensity, which leads to more rains and flash floods.
Ahead of Thursday’s expected typhoon, more than 100 international and domestic flights have been canceled, while ferry services to Taiwan’s outlying islands have also been halted.
More than 200 people were evacuated for fear of landslides in the south of the island, and waves lashing the coast could reach up to seven meters (22 feet) high, authorities said.
Fishing boats were crammed into a fishing harbor in Pingtung county on Wednesday to shelter ahead of the typhoon, while primary schools in the agricultural region of Taitung allowed children to go home early.
“It’s barely a month, and we have another typhoon,” 65-year-old Yang Pi-cheng lamented said, as she waited to pick up her grandchildren from Dawang Primary School.
A major highway along the coast has also been closed as a precaution.
Koinu – which has been charting a jagged course for Taiwan’s southern tip – is currently just 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the island, moving toward it at 10 kilometers per hour.
The typhoon has already brought heavy rains to the mountainous northeast regions of Yilan and New Taipei City.
“We forecast that its center will pass through the Hengchun Peninsula at the southern tip of Taiwan tomorrow morning,” said Lu Kuo-chen, head of Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration.
After making landfall in Taiwan, Typhoon Koinu is forecast to move toward the eastern coast of China’s Guangdong province, said the weather observatory in nearby Hong Kong.
The Chinese territory – which last month was skirted by another typhoon before being flooded by the heaviest rainfall in 140 years days later – will issue its lowest typhoon signal on Wednesday evening.

Putin’s Kyrgyzstan visit to be first abroad since ICC warrant

Updated 04 October 2023

Putin’s Kyrgyzstan visit to be first abroad since ICC warrant

  • The long-time leader has rarely left Russia since launching a full-scale military offensive against Ukraine in February 2022

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Kyrgyzstan next week, authorities in the Central Asian country said Wednesday, in his first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him.
Putin has not left Russia since The Hague-based court issued the warrant in March over the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.
“By the invitation of the president of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov on October 12 the president of the Russian Federation will pay an official visit to our country,” the Kyrgyz news agency Kabar reported, citing an official from the presidential office.
Putin is due to visit a Russian air base in the city of Kant, east of the capital Bishkek, for the 20th anniversary of its opening, Russian media reported.
The long-time leader has rarely left Russia since launching a full-scale military offensive against Ukraine in February 2022.
He last traveled abroad in December last year, when he visited both Kyrgyzstan and Moscow’s neighbor Belarus.
Kyrgyzstan has not ratified the Rome Statute, a treaty obliging members to adhere to the International Criminal Court’s decisions.
Since March, ICC members are expected to make the arrest if the Russian leader sets foot on their territory.
Putin did not attend the BRICS summit hosted by South Africa — a member of the ICC — in July.
On Tuesday, lawmakers in Armenia approved a key step toward joining the ICC, angering Moscow.

Taliban brands Pakistan expulsion threat to Afghan immigrants ‘unacceptable’

Updated 04 October 2023

Taliban brands Pakistan expulsion threat to Afghan immigrants ‘unacceptable’

  • About 1.73 million Afghan immigrants are living in Pakistan without any legal status
  • Interior minister alleges that Afghan nationals had carried out 14 out of 24 suicide bombings in Pakistan this year

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s threat to forcibly expel illegal Afghan immigrants is “unacceptable,” a spokesman for the Taliban administration in Kabul said on Wednesday, adding that Afghans were not to blame for Pakistan’s security problems.
Estimating that there were 1.73 million Afghan immigrants living in Pakistan without any legal status, Pakistan’s caretaker government on Tuesday set a Nov.1 deadline for them to leave or face forcible expulsion.
“The behavior of Pakistan toward Afghan refugees is unacceptable,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Taliban administration in Kabul, said in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
To help justify the crackdown, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti alleged that Afghan nationals had carried out 14 out of 24 suicide bombings in Pakistan this year.
The Taliban spokesman rejected that claim.
“The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan. Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan’s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them,” Mujahid said.
Pakistan’s ultimatum to the immigrants, most of whom have been living in the country for years, came after a meeting of civil and military leaders to review the law and order situation following two suicide bombings on Friday that killed at least 57 people. Bugti said one of the suicide bombers was an Afghan national, and he also accused India’s intelligence agency of involvement.
Relations between the Taliban and the Pakistan government have deteriorated markedly, with border clashes temporarily closing the main trade route between the neighbors last month.
Islamabad alleges that the militants use Afghan soil to train fighters and plan attacks inside Pakistan. The Taliban denies those accusations, saying Pakistan’s security problems are home-grown.
A caretaker government was installed in August to guide the Pakistan through to elections expected sometime in the coming months, and the military has been able to exert more influence as a result of the uncertainty and instability in the country.

Netflix plans to raise prices after actors’ strike ends

Updated 04 October 2023

Netflix plans to raise prices after actors’ strike ends

  • WSJ reported that price increase will occur in ‘several markets globally’

LONDON: Netflix is planning to raise the price of its ad-free service after the ongoing Hollywood actors’ strike ends, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, sending the streaming company’s shares up more than 3 percent.
Netflix is discussing raising prices in several markets globally, but will likely begin with the United States and Canada, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
It was not immediately clear how much Netflix will raise prices by or when exactly the new prices will take effect, according to the report.
Netflix declined to comment on the report.
Talks between the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios, are ongoing, with their next meeting scheduled on Wednesday.
The writers’ union struck a tentative deal with the AMPTP last week after five months of failed negotiations.
Netflix cut prices of its subscription plans in some countries in February. In the same month, it laid out a plan to crack down on password sharing by subscribers that was rolled out in over 100 countries in May.