South Sudan Renewed Violence: Time for the ICC to Step in?

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Fresh fighting has erupted between the government of South Sudan and opposition forces in a number of locations across the country.

The latest violence is not only putting immense pressure on the core and the coherence existence of the newest country in the world, many innocent civilians are reported killed and thousands of others forced to flee their homes and country and seek shelter elsewhere. The United Nations official in South Sudan has called for restraint and reminded the warring groups of the need to protect the civilians at all cost. But this important task of ensuring civilian safety and minimizing casualty seems the least thing both the government and opposition troops in South Sudan care about.

The latest clashes during the Easter period, between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition groups, according to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), have taken place in Waat (Jonglei State, eastern South Sudan), Raga (western South Sudan), and in Wunkur and Tonga towns (northern, Upper Nile State). Apart from the escalation of violence in Pajok (near the border with Uganda), which saw more than 6,000 refugees fleeing to other countries, many other civilians have been displaced or killed, including three UN World Food Programme (WFP) contracted workers. According to the UNMISS, more than 13,500 newly displaced persons have been received in Wau, making the total number of displaced South Sudanese in the camp 38,746. This total number excludes thousands of other helpless refugees, seeking protection at other non-UN locations.

Ironically, while the Easter celebration symbolizes love, peace, reconciliation, and hopes, the government of South Sudan and its oppositions have rather used the occasion to cause rampage and the death of their fellow brothers and sisters. One cannot help but ask: Is this the kind of government and social condition many South Sudanese people have dreamed about and bravely fought for more than 30 years against the Sudan government? Was the pre-independence political situation under Sudan really worse than the present situation in the hands of the South Sudanese leaders after independence?

Both the African Union and the UN have fruitlessly tried on many occasions to bring the warring parties to a negotiation table and end the carnage in South Sudan, but the South Sudanese leaders seem more interested in grabbing power and promoting ethnicity and nepotism at the expense of their poor fellow citizens. Basic social services have become a dream in South Sudan despite the huge abundance of oil and other natural minerals in the country. Corruption and lawlessness are a norm.

When will this brutal barbarism and impunity end? A lot of atrocities have reportedly been committed by both the government forces and the opposition troops. Must this impunity continue? Is it time to call the attention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the carnage in South Sudan and make the culprits of the savage responsible for their crimes against humanity?  This lack of sense and sensibility in South Sudan must stop.