South Sudan: Hundreds Displaced As Army Heightens Offensive Against Renegade General

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Serial fighting between South Sudan forces and holdout rebels allied to renegade general Thomas Cirillo Swaka has displaced over 300 people internally in the restive Yei region, an official said.

Swaka, a former lieutenant general, resigned as deputy chief for logistics in South Sudan’s army in February 2017, accusing President Salva Kiir of waging “a tribally engineered war and turning the military into a force dominated by th Dinka, the president’s ethnic group.

The state gender and social development minister, Christine Anite Philip said those displaced, mainly women and children are currently living under trees without either food or non-food items.

“There are many people here coming from different areas of Otogo and they are desperate under the trees for the past three days without food and non-food items. I am kindly calling on the humanitarian partners to rescue these people with food items like beans, flour and mats so that these people can sustain their living here,” said Anite.

Last week, South Sudan’s opposition alliance, an umbrella organization for armed and non-armed dissidents said they were concerned by the repeated violations of the cessation of hostilities by the government forces and accused Juba of preparing new attacks against the National Salvation Front (NAS).

NAS has also accused South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSDF) of attacking their position in Central and Western Equatoria.

They said Sudan People’s Liberation Army In Opposition (SPLA-IO), the main rebel group allied to leader Riek Machar is also aiding the offensive.

“The South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) is perturbed by the Juba regime and the SPLM/A-IO intentional violation of December 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) by their aggression and attacks on multiple positions of SSNDA in Yei River State on the 31st of January and still continues to date,” said the alliance spokesperson Kwaje Lasu.

Machar and Kiir signed a peace agreement in September 2018 in the latest effort to end a nearly five year war that began when Kiir accused his former deputy, Machar, of plotting a coup.

During the conflict, nearly 400,000 people died and millions were forced to flee their homes or to the brink of starvation.

Diplomats say there has been a significant reduction in fighting since the agreement, although pockets of fighting have continued between government forces and rebels like NAS who didn’t sign the deal, especially in the Equatoria region.

Eye witnesses quoted by local radio Tamazuj said soldiers raided villages, looting and torching houses.

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