THE situation in South Sudan only gets grimmer. In the northwest, a government offensive has in the last few days displaced close to 25,000 people around the town of Kodok.
The UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, is reporting that people are fleeing to Aburoc, where the total number in need could rise to 50,000. But aid organisations have been forced to suspend their work because of the fighting between the army and Agwelek Shilluk militia, allied to the opposition SPLA-IO.
There are few safe options for the displaced. Many will have little alternative but to head to camps in Sudan. “Those who decide to go face an arduous journey on foot, lasting many days” with little food and water, warns MSF.
Talks to end the violence seem a must, but the opposition is deeply fragmented. There are “third, fourth and fifth groups that have little affinity” for SPLA-IO, notes analyst Aly Verjee.
The command structure of the state army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) may even have broken down, adding to the confusion. How can progress begin on a ceasefire when the conflict is now so local?
President Salva Kiir (perhaps disingenuously) has called for talks. But the international community and regional government seem paralysed to help push the process along, says the International Crisis Group.
Work needs to be done to create the conditions for local dialogue or Kiir’s offer will be a hollow one.