Rebel fighters affiliated with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) clashed with South Sudanese government forces (Sudan People's Liberation Army [SPLA]) in Koch county (Northern Liech state) on Monday, September 24. The number of resultant casualties was not immediately reported. Both sides claimed the other started the fighting, which comes in violation of a peace accord signed in recent weeks. Additional clashes between government forces and SPLM-IO rebels are possible in the coming days and weeks.
President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar signed a power-sharing deal in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) on September 12, following a series of talks. A previous peace agreement was signed on June 27, but breached on June 30, to end a civil war that has killed at least 50,000 people and displaced some three million.
South Sudan has been wracked by years of political, interethnic, and intercommunal violence - exacerbated by border and oil revenue disputes with Sudan. Following the 2011 signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that gave the country its independence from Sudan, the predominantly north-south conflict has given way to a pattern of internal violence. Since December 2013, the country has experienced an intermittent civil war waged between President Kiir's government and the SPLA on one side, and the rebel forces of the SPLM-IO, led by former Vice President Machar, on the other. A 2015 peace agreement has failed to prevent outbreaks of ethnic and political violence and the conflict has continued despite international support for state-building and peacekeeping - including the 12,000-strong UNMISS force, deployed since 2011. Various factions had signed what was supposed to be a permanent ceasefire on December 21, 2017, in an effort to revive the 2015 peace agreement; however, the ceasefire was violated three days later.
Many Western governments advise against nonessential travel to South Sudan. Certain regions should be particularly avoided, including the former states of Unity and Upper Nile, the north of former Warrap state, parts of the former Eastern and Central Equatoria states, and areas along the border with the Central African Republic, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If travel is necessary, ensure that proper security protocols are in place.