Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, South Sudan is one of the most traditional communities in Africa. Large areas are hardly affected by modernization in the outside world. It still seems that people walk completely naked. For a large part of the population, life revolves around livestock farming.
The men and boys spend part of the year following the animals to new pastures. During the short dry season, they gather at riverside beaches. During the rainy season, the families live together in round huts of straw and clay with thatched roof and feed on growing millet or other cereals. Small crops of fruit and vegetables supplement the diet, as do fish from the many rivers and wetlands. Often a family has several huts, one of which is used to sleep in, one as a kitchen, one as a food supply and one as a goat herd. A well-built hut can withstand up to ten years without having to be renovated.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of South Sudan, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Most South Sudanese live outside the monetary system and do barter. The most lucrative barter items are cattle, including goats and sheep, which are used both in trade and for bridal purchases.
Ritual knife scars
Identification with one’s own ethnic group is strong. It is still common for boys and girls to be admitted among the adults through an initiation rite where an adult, with the help of a redness knife, carves marks on their foreheads or cheeks. This gives life-long scars that mark the ethnic affiliation of the people. Those who cry are ashamed and risk being treated forever with less respect by others. While the scars prove a man’s courage, they are regarded by women as beauty markings. Among the fairly few South Sudanese who have begun to live a modern life, the custom is on the way, but people without knife wounds in the face are at risk of having difficulty asserting their authority. For example, it is said that Nuern Riek Machar, former rebel leader, is now vice president (see Current Policy), had trouble being recognized as a leading resistance fighter because he has a high education and lacks ritual scars.
In South Sudan, the usual Christian holidays are celebrated, such as Christmas and Easter. Also some Muslim holidays are national holidays, such as id al-fitr (marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan) and id al-adha (the attention of Abraham’s sacrifice of the son of Ishmael to god). Among the secular holidays are the day of celebration of the peace agreement 2005 (January 9), workers’ day (May 1), National Day (May 16), Independence Day (July 9), Martyrs Day (July 30) and World AIDS Day (December 1).
The mandate of the UN force is being extended
The UN extends the mandate of UNMISS peacekeeping force for one year.
Kenya expels Machar’s spokesman
Kenya expels rebel leader Machar’s spokesman in the country, despite the SPLM-IO warning that the spokesman’s life is in danger if he is forced to return to his home country.
Kenya threatens to withdraw from Unmiss
As a direct response to the UN’s decision to fire the Kenyan commander of Unmiss, Kenya announces that it will take home its troops in the UN force. Kenya contributes around 1,000 of Unmiss’s 16,000 soldiers, one of the largest contributions to the force.
Unmiss’s high command is fired
UN chief Ban Ki-moon dismisses UNMIS chief commander, Kenyan Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki. The reason for Ban’s decision is a UN investigation that offers stinging criticism of UN forces’ efforts during the outbreak of violence in Juba (see July 2016). According to the report of the United Nations Special Investigation into Violence, a lack of leadership led to the force acting “chaotic and ineffective” and that Unmiss failed to protect civilians. The report describes, among other things, how the UN soldiers surrendered their posts and did not respond to appeals for assistance from aid workers who tried in vain to escape from attackers at a hotel in the capital (for information on the hotel massacre see July 2016).
Unicef: “145 child soldiers freed”
The UN Children’s Fund Unicef says it has negotiated to free 145 child soldiers from two armed groups in the eastern part of the country. The two groups are the Cobra faction and the SPLA-IO. Unicef estimates that there are around 16,000 children in South Sudan who are forced to be soldiers or bearers in armed groups, including the government army.
Dozens of dead in new battles
The government army reports that it killed nearly 60 SPLM-IO rebels during the weekend of October 15-16. From South Africa, Machar says he plans to return to South Sudan.
Over 20 dead in assault
Twenty people are killed when the unknown offender attacks a truck on the road between Juba and the city of Yei in the south. Government spokesmen accuse SPLM-IO of the ambush.
War declaration of Machar
The rebel leader Riek Machar calls for renewed war to oust the country’s government. However, it is unclear how many rebels in his SPLM-IO movement are on his side. SPLM-IO was divided into two factions under Machar and Taban Deng Gai in connection with the July outbreak (see July 2016).
UN: “Over one million South Sudanese in neighboring countries”
UNHCR UNHCR says that the number of South Sudanese refugees located in neighboring countries has exceeded one million. About 200,000 have fled after the outbreak of violence in Juba in July 2016. At the same time, more than 1.6 million South Sudanese are refugees in their own country, according to the UNHCR.
The government closes the daily newspaper
The influential English-language newspaper Nation Mirror has been shut down by the National Security Authority after it published articles based on a report from the organization The Sentry, whose forefront is American actor George Clooney. The report, released the same week, is accused by President Kiir, the rebel leader Machar and the army chief of Malong for having earned large sums of the civil war through corruption. The government describes the report as “complete garbage”.
UN experts: “the outbreak of violence controlled from the highest level”
In a report, a group of UN experts states that the July 2016 outbreak of violence was ruled from the highest level by the country’s military leadership. The violence was so well organized and large-scale, and was carried out with such advanced weapons that the experts conclude that it was ordered by Army Chief Paul Malong with President Kiir’s full knowledge. The UN experts exclude that it may have been a spontaneous outbreak of violence or pure crime.
Rebels receive care in Congo-Kinshasa
The UN mission in Congo-Kinshasa helps more than 100 soldiers from Machar’s force move from Juba to Congo-Kinshasa. The rebels were reported to be in poor condition and received medical assistance for “humanitarian reasons” after leaving their weapons.
Kiir joins extra UN forces
Following a meeting in Juba with the Security Council’s 15 ambassadors, President Kiir agrees to deploy a regional peacekeeping UN force of 4,000 people in the country to support Unmiss.
The government proposes a record budget
The budget proposal for 2016/2017 is about one billion dollars and, according to the government, is the main goal of realizing the peace agreement. The budget must be adopted by Parliament, which is dominated by Kiir supporters. It is unclear how the poor country will finance the ambitious bouquet.
Oil agreement with Sudan “to be extended”
Sudan and South Sudan agree that the oil agreement between the two countries expiring in October should be extended, but the parties do not agree on what the agreement will look like. Under the current agreement, South Sudan pays such a high fee for oil transport through Sudan to the shipping port in the Red Sea that oil production is in fact at a loss. In the ongoing negotiations, held in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, South Sudan promises to increase its oil production and to re-open the oil fields in the state of Unity that are now in decline.
Machar flees to Congo-Kinshasa
A UN spokesman says Machar moved to Congo-Kinshasa, a task confirmed by SPLM-IO. The UN mission in South Sudan should not have had to do with the execution of Machar. The former vice president is said to have feared for his life after he was dismissed. A few days later, Machar is reported to have flown to Sudan for care.
New peace force to Juba
12th of August
The UN Security Council adopts a resolution to send a regional peacekeeping force to South Sudan. The strength of 4,000 men will strengthen the UN force already in the country. South Sudan opposes the deployment and demands that details of the force’s arrival and equipment should first be negotiated with the South Sudanese government. The UN resolution also includes an arms embargo that will take effect if South Sudan tries to stop deployment.
The army is attacking now
The UN Human Rights Commissioner accuses the South Sudanese army of having, during the fighting that took place in July, focused on murdering and raping people belonging to the Nuer group. President Kiir belongs to the group Dinka and his rival Machar is nuer.
Dismissal from the government
Opposition leader Lam Akol leaves his post as Minister of Agriculture and also resigns as leader of his party SPLM-DC. Akol believes that the 2015 peace agreement cannot be implemented under the current government. In the same vein, President Kiir conducts a government transformation and disposes of five ministers with close ties to Machar. They will be replaced by allies of the new Vice President Taban Deng.
Machar resigned as vice president
President Kiir appoints a new Vice President in Machar’s place. Machar, who left the capital after the unrest in early July, says he fears for his life. New Vice President will be Taban Deng Gai who has been mining minister in the unity government and belongs to the same party as Machar, SPLM-IO. The tours around the appointment show a deep divide within the party. Gai had been deposed as mining minister by Machar but was now appointed according to Kiir on the suggestion of a group of leading party members. The contradictions divide the party into two factions – one supporting Machar and one supporting Gai.
Decision on regional protection force
The AU decides to deploy a regional security force in South Sudan to stabilize the country. The initiative comes from Igad and the force must have a stronger mandate than Unmiss. Igad supports UN chief Ban’s proposal for an arms embargo on the country, but AU rejects the proposal since Uganda, which has strong ties to Kiir, said no.
Foreigners are evacuated
The United States sends troops to South Sudan to strengthen the protection of the US embassy. Italy and Germany evacuate citizens. Sudan also takes home citizens and Ugandan soldiers are sent to Juba to bring compatriots. Although Juba is relatively calm, fighting continues elsewhere and refugees are pouring out of the country. The AU says that the situation in South Sudan is “unacceptable”. Kiir promises impunity to the rebels who took part in the fighting in Juba.
The UN appeals for reinforcement
The UN Security Council will meet on July 10 on the situation in South Sudan. In addition to calling on the parties to cease fire, the UN appeals to the member states for more soldiers to South Sudan as well as attack helicopters. UN chief Ban Ki-moon says that a weapons embargo and strengthened sanctions must be introduced immediately against South Sudanese leaders. On July 12, both Kiir and Machar order their troops back to the barracks and the situation becomes somewhat more stable.
Attack on hotels is being investigated by the UN
Uniformed men storm the hotel grounds of Hotel Terrain in Juba, raping women and abusing relief workers. Unmiss soldiers are reported to see the attack without interference. The UN is launching an investigation into what has happened.
Fighting breaks out in Juba
For the first time since Machar’s return to the capital, fighting in Juba erupts. It is government forces that stand against Machar’s rebels. It is unclear if the two leaders are in control of the soldiers anymore. After a few days, nearly 300 people were killed. Among the dead are several civilians as well as two Chinese UN soldiers and one South Sudanese UN worker. Tens of thousands of people pour out of Juba.
Canceled five year celebration
The planned celebration of the five-year anniversary of the South Sudanese nation is set, as famine and fighting plague the population. The peace agreement now seems to exist only on paper.
Serious violations of the peace agreement
Supervisors of the ceasefire warn that serious violations of the peace agreement are committed outside the country where regular fighting is ongoing.
The UN warns of famine disaster
The UN and the South Sudanese government are warning that the country is now threatened by a full-fledged famine disaster. One third of the population faces the threat of famine. At the same time, reports of flare-ups are fought with dozens dead.
Most South Sudanese refugees in Sudan
According to the UN agency Ocha, more than 230,000 South Sudanese have moved into Sudan since the outbreak of war in 2013, while almost as many have moved to Ethiopia, 202,000 to Uganda and 57,000 to Kenya.
UN: Attacks on relief workers are increasing
UN agency Ocha warns that attacks on aid workers are increasing. This may involve, for example, ambush, abuse, robbery or murder. Three relief workers have been killed since the unification government took office in April, and since the outbreak of war in December 2013, 55 relief workers have been killed. Since the turn of the year 2016, at least 29 vehicles with aid workers have been robbed and 74 offices for aid organizations have been looted.
Most children free
According to media reports, the vast majority of children are now exempt from the kidnappers (see April 2016).
Tens of thousands flee to Sudan
UN agency Ocha announces that more than 69,000 South Sudanese have moved to Sudan between the beginning of the year and the middle of May. They flee armed conflict and food shortages.
Another ten children are rescued
Ethiopian soldiers release ten children from the South Sudanese armed group that kidnapped 125 Ethiopian children in April. It states the Ethiopian etheric media company Fana Broadcasting Corporation. In total, 29 children have been exempted.
Nineteen kidnapped children are freed
Following negotiations between the kidnappers and the government in Juba, 19 of the 125 abducted children from Ethiopia are released (see April 2016)
A transitional government is installed
President Salva Kiir presents a transitional government with Deng Alor as Foreign Minister and Alfred Lado Gore as Home Minister. Kuol Manyang remains in the post of Minister of Defense and David Deng Athorbei as Minister of Finance. Dak Duop Bichok sits on the important post of Minister of Oil. The sharply government-critical opposition politician Lam Akol gets the post of Minister of Agriculture responsible for food security in the country.
Machar back in Juba
26th of April
The rebel leader Machar returns to Juba and is installed as vice president in a future transitional government.
Over 100 children are taken away in fear
A group believed to belong to the murle people makes a scare into the Gambella region of Ethiopia and attacks the Nuer. Over 200 people are killed and more than 120 children are abducted. Ethiopian forces enter and surround the area where the children are. Cross-border raids are not uncommon in the area, where Nuer and Murle have long competed for pasture for their livestock.
There is uncertainty about Machar’s return to Juba
Conflicting information comes from the government and the rebels as to when Machar will return to Juba. The government says the rebel leader demands to bring heavy weapons into the city and that the return is therefore postponed indefinitely.
New large refugee streams
UN refugee agency UNHCR reports that new fighting and serious food shortages have led to people fleeing from previously quiet parts of South Sudan, such as Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and the Warrap states. Since January 2016, about 52,000 South Sudanese have moved to Sudan, while Uganda currently receives around 800 people each day. Almost all of them are women or children. In Ethiopia, there are around 285,000 South Sudanese refugees, the highest number among neighboring countries. In recent months, some 12,000 have arrived in Congo-Kinshasa, and even northeastern Kenya and the Central African Republic have received many South Sudanese. Since the civil war broke out in December 2013, around 2.3 million residents have been forced to leave their homes, of which around 670,000 are outside the country.
Deputy rebel leader to the capital
The rebels’ deputy leader, Alfred Ladu Gore, also arrives in Juba ahead of Machar’s planned return.
Rebels to Juba
A rebel force of 1,370 soldiers and police arrive in Juba in accordance with the peace agreement. They will be responsible for the security of rebel leader Riek Machar, who is expected to head to the capital soon. The rebels have been transported to Juba with chartered aircraft under UN supervision.
The Foreign Minister dismissed
President Kiir dismisses Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin. No explanation is given, but there has been a demand for the minister’s departure following information that he should have said that the disputed border area Abyei (see Modern history) does not belong to South Sudan. He himself declares that he only referred to the agreement which states that Abyei’s domicile shall be decided in a local referendum.
The UN investigates human rights violations
The UN Human Rights Council sets up a commission to investigate human rights violations in South Sudan. The three members will, among other things, investigate information about gang rape, destruction of villages and attacks on civilians.
Amnesty warns of mass murder
11th of March
Amnesty International accuses the government army of deliberately choking over 60 men and boys in a shipping container in October 2015. Amnesty is based on 23 eyewitnesses who saw how soldiers locked people in the red hot container in the town of Leer in central South Sudan and later discharged the corpse.
New alarms on war crimes
11th of March
The UN Human Rights Commission accuses both sides of the conflict in South Sudan of serious human rights violations. In particular, the government army, which, according to UN sources, often gives the soldiers free hands to rape women instead of being paid. The soldiers are also allowed to steal livestock and plunder civilian homes with the commander’s fond memory. Especially the sexual violence is described as “shocking”. Only in one of the country’s states, the UN registered more than 1,300 rapes between April and September 2015. The UN agency UNDP has interviewed over 1,500 people around the country and found that 63 percent lost a family member in the war, 18 percent had a child. abducted, 14 percent have been tortured, 33 percent have seen a relative “disappear”, 55 percent had their home destroyed and 48 percent lacked medication when they were ill. It is also clear from calculations by, among others, the UN and the International Crisis Group (ICG) that no one has counted on how many people were killed during the war or died in the suites of the war. The lowest figure mentioned is 50,000, but many estimate that up to 300,000 is a more likely figure.
South Sudan joins the EAC
South Sudan joins the East African Community (EAC), announces the regional organization’s headquarters in Arusha. The EAC already includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The EAC works primarily to facilitate trade between countries through, among other things, simplified customs rules.
The UN chief calls for peace
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says during a visit to Juba that the warring parties have no choice but to respect the peace agreement they have signed. He says the UN will provide $ 21 million to strengthen its own and other humanitarian organizations’ operations in the country.
Machar is re-elected as Vice President
President Kiir reinstates Machar in the post of Vice President. However, Machar demands that all soldiers must leave Juba before returning to the capital.
The UN warns of starvation
According to the UN, at least 40,000 people are at risk of starvation in the war zones. In total, almost a quarter of the country’s population is estimated to need food aid. The World Organization appeals to the army and the rebels to allow aid broadcasts.
The UN is recommended to punish the leaders
An expert committee within the UN recommends that sanctions be imposed on President Kiir as well as rebel leader Machar and two other South Sudanese leaders. They are accused of gross human rights violations during the civil war. If the UN Sanctions Committee follows the experts’ advice, the four men can be banned from traveling abroad and have any financial assets abroad blocked.
The oil trade is at a loss
The war-ravaged South Sudanese economy is even more burdened by the low oil price, which means that the country is now making a loss on its oil exports. South Sudan earns about $ 20 per barrel but must pay $ 24 per barrel to deliver the oil through a pipeline to the shipping port in Sudan. Within the government, concerns are mounting that the country will be forced to stop production in order not to incur major losses, unless the agreement with Sudan can be renegotiated. South Sudan is reportedly already lagging behind with payments to Sudan.
The suffering of the civilian population persists
Although peace efforts appear to be taking shape, civilians continue to flee fighting and famine, especially in Unity, the UN says. Since the end of December 2015, nearly 10,000 civilians have sought protection at a UN base in Bentiu, where there are now upwards of 115,000 refugees. In total, around 193,000 civilians are staying at UN facilities in the country.
The rebels are sitting in Parliament
7 th of January
President Kiir approves 50 MPs nominated by the rebels. The government and the rebels agree to form a joint government, with the current government side receiving 16 ministerial posts and the rebels 10. The old government is responsible for the Ministry of Defense, Security, Finance and Justice, while the rebels are in charge of the oil industry and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs issues. Also a group of influential politicians called “former prisoners”, who were arrested during the outbreak of war but later released, are represented in the government responsible for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Transport. Other political parties are in charge of government coordination and agriculture. There is no mention of when the ministers should be appointed or when the government should take office.