The war that broke out in April between elements of Sudan’s security apparatus could derail the already slow peace process in South Sudan.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Escalating clashes in Sudan and no mediation on the horizon
Sudan conflict Diverting regional and international attention away from pressuring the South Sudanese government to comply with its transitional terms could exacerbate the deepening humanitarian crisis and societal violence in that country. It also poses a potential threat to South Sudan’s major oil revenues, which could exacerbate competition and mistrust within the leadership.
The implementation of the peace agreement in the country of 2018 was hampered by many internal and external factors, which led to its extension for two years until February 2025. The extension comes with important criteria that must be met before the elections in December 2024. These criteria include completing the constitution, unifying the armed forces and redeploying them Reshaping laws and institutions related to elections.
The peace process has been compromised by a lack of political will to implement critical reforms, lack of trust between the parties, weak institutions including security forces, lack of resources, inter-communal violence, and natural disasters such as floods. External factors include instability in Sudan since 2019, the COVID-19 virus, the war in northern Ethiopia, and the US withdrawal of funds from peace process monitoring mechanisms due to the lack of sustainable progress.
Moreover, the influx of immigrants comes from South Sudan back from Sudan – more than 117,000 – have added pressure to the already fragile economic and security situation in South Sudan. These returnees are in dire need of food and other necessities, and proper camps. Their homes have either been burned or occupied by the new arrivals, leading to confrontations and violence between the returnees and residents. The unified security forces of the country are not prepared to prevent these hostilities.
The problem is particularly acute in places like Malakal, the capital of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state and a major destination for new returnees fleeing conflict in Sudan. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs He says About 25,000 returnees are expected to arrive and stay in Malakal – already a hotbed of violence due to lack of resources.
The humanitarian crisis was in South Sudan awesome For several years due to violence and severe flooding. that estimated 9.4 million residents currently need aid, but the government lacks the financial resources to tackle the country’s problems. Unmet demands of returnees could lead to further clashes, which could quickly escalate into inter-communal conflicts and attacks on humanitarian actors. This instability will make many notable transition criteria more difficult to complete.
conflict in Sudan
The war in Sudan also threatens the oil fields, pipelines and other facilities there that South Sudan uses and pays for. This could severely reduce South Sudan’s oil revenues, which account for up to 90% income from the government. The country sends its crude oil to international markets through Port Sudan, its northern neighbor on the Red Sea, through a 1,600-kilometre pipeline. This makes Sudan the guarantor and protector of the oil infrastructure that passes through its territory in exchange for transit fees from South Sudan.
Although the two ministries of petroleum are both Sudan And South Sudan They said that the Sudanese oil field facilities are well protected, and there are fears that the oil will not continue to flow to international markets. There are already reports of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces threatening to shut down oil pipelines in militia-held areas unless South Sudan agrees to share oil revenues or stop paying transit fees to the army-led government.
The security of the oil field could be used as a bargaining chip by warring factions in Sudan looking for an alliance with the government of South Sudan. If Juba turns towards one of the forces, the other will likely use the protection of the oil field to pressure Juba to change its response. This means that the security of the oil field depends on the nature of South Sudan’s participation in conflict management.
The logistics and transportation of essential oil production supplies that depend on the road to Port Sudan have also been disrupted. South Sudan has announced that it will now import essential oil supplies through the ports of Djibouti and Kenya instead of Port Sudan because of the war, which increases costs for South Sudan.
although loss Accountability for government spending on the country’s oil revenues is a major cause of its economic problems, and this new threat limits Juba’s financial ability to implement important Milestones before the election. Due to the large international financial withdrawal supports Over the past years, sustainable local resources have been vital.
If domestic revenue streams decline, illegal transactions and competition are likely to increase among the country’s leaders as they attempt to bridge the gap and pursue their interests. This will create suspicion and tension among political groups, making it difficult to resolve key issues before the elections.
While de-escalating the conflict in Sudan is a top priority, South Sudan must maintain neutrality towards the warring parties to avoid making the oil field a target. Protecting oil fields should be the focus of efforts to resolve regional and international disputes, with both sides in Sudan held fully responsible. In parallel, international financial assistance is needed to address the dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan. DM
Salam Tadesse Demise, Researcher, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Addis Ababa.
It was first published by ISS today.