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South Sudan: Broiling

February 10th, 2014
by:Jonathan Lutes
located in:Rwanda, South Sudan
tags:oil, Rwanda, Salva Kiir, South Sudan, The Sudan, United Nations

When in 2011, South Sudan became independent from Sudan, the United Nations was there to oversee and supervise the independence referendum. With the support of the UN, South Sudan was envisioned as a model mission, one that was supposed to deliver the region from decades of warfare. But just a few months after the independence declaration, peacekeeping once again became increasingly difficult, and the UN has been under regular attack ever since.

In mid-December, political rivalries over the country’s oil regions erupted into widespread attacks on civilians, displacing over one hundred thousand people. It is still unclear how many thousands have been killed.

Twenty years ago in Rwanda, the United Nations did not act on a cry for help. This resulted in the genocide that saw almost 1 million people massacred. In the New York Times, Somini Sengupta accounts for the lessons learned as well as the failures of the UN in the case of South Sudan and its recent crisis.

In an effort to prevent a repeat of Rwanda, the UN promised to act fast when fighting broke out in South Sudan over a month ago. Thousands of people have sought shelter in UN facilities, according to Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary General. Within 48 hours of the violent outbreak, the UN issued a statement promising to double the number of troops in the region in order to protect its civilians.

But the way the situation is progressing, the UN has been unable to supply this aid, finding itself facing its usual difficulties, namely convincing countries to send soldiers. Furthermore, a diplomat on the Security Council acknowledged that the gravity of this conflict might have been foreseen last summer when President Salva Kiir of South Sudan fired his vice president, Riek Machar, who is leading the violence against the government.

Article written by:
Jonathan Lutes
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