Hundreds of people participated in demonstrations in front of the US Embassy and UN headquarters in Juba on Tuesday, February 6, protesting a recent US arms embargo to the country. The protesters reportedly attacked three journalists attempting to document the demonstrations; one journalist was injured and later released from a local clinic. Additional protests against the US arms embargo are possible in Juba and other urban areas in South Sudan in the coming days and weeks.
On February 2, the US banned exports of defense assistance and weapons to South Sudan to pressure South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to end the ongoing civil war.
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 the government of President Salva Kiir and the SPLA on one side, and former Vice President Riek Machar and the SPLA-IO on the other. The 2015 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 United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), deployed since 2011.
Representatives from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army - In Opposition (SPLA-IO), among other rebel groups, signed a permanent ceasefire in December 2017 in an effort to revive a 2015 peace agreement. However, violations were reported shortly after the ceasefire was supposed to go into effect, by both the government and the SPLA-IO. Further clashes occurred January 4-5 near Juba, leaving several people dead and prompting the US Embassy to issue a temporary curfew for its personnel effective January 5-8. Renewed clashes between government and rebel forces erupted outside of Juba on January 9, leaving at least four people dead.
Many Western governments advise against nonessential travel to South Sudan. Certain regions should be particularly avoided, including the states of Unity and Upper Nile, the north of Warrap state, parts of 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.
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