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South Sudan: Armed Conflict

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Conservative, West Worcestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of hostilities in South Sudan in (a) 2018 and (b) 2019.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The first half of 2018 saw some of the worst violence of the South Sudan civil war that led to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people since 2013. Fighting between the Government and opposition groups in Unity State in April and May 2018 was especially violent and was referred to by the UN as 'deliberate, ruthless and violently bloody attacks on civilians'.

In June 2018 the parties to the conflict signed the Khartoum Declaration, which recommitted to earlier cessation of hostilities agreements and paved the way for the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), signed on 18 September 2018. Since then, there has been a significant and sustained reduction in violence between the parties to the agreement. Making an accurate assessment of fatalities and conflict incidents in 2018 and 2019 is challenging but, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, fatalities reduced from 848 in 2018, to 485 up to November 2019.

South Sudan remains a violent country and fighting continues today in some areas, most notably in Central Equatoria between the Government and the National Salvation Front, a militia group who are not signatories to the agreement. Further, whilst inter-communal conflict over resources and historic grievances pre-date the civil war, they have been exacerbated by it and continue to this day.

What peace there is in South Sudan is fragile. The UK consistently urges the parties to 2018 R-ARCSS to implement all commitments in full, to engage in a spirit of compromise and to adhere to the ceasefire. Through our Conflict Security and Stability Funding, the UK also supports the ceasefire monitoring bodies and sub-national efforts to address the drivers of conflict.

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