Inside Story

South Sudan: Peace talks or petty squabbles?

Leaders of the world’s newest nation appear no nearer to a power-sharing deal after a year of civil war.

South Sudan is marking a year of civil war that pits heavily armed factions of the national army against each other.

Civilian militias have also been dragged into a conflict that Human Rights Watch says has included “extraordinary acts of cruelty”.

War in the world’s newest nation broke out in December last year, when President Salva Kiir accused his deputy Riek Machar of trying to organise a coup.

The fighting between rival camps has inflamed ethnic tensions, setting Kiir’s Dinka tribe against Machar’s Nuer.

The UN says at least 10,000 people have been killed in 12 months of civil war, although the International Crisis Group says the figure could be as high as 50,000.

Two million people have been made homeless, while a lack of food, water and healthcare means 6 million people are in need of aid.

Commenting on the year of conflict, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan, Ellen Margrethe Loj, said: “Sadly, South Sudanese have, today, witnessed a dramatic deterioration in the human rights situation since the political dispute escalated into an armed conflict almost one year ago. The ensuing violence has ignited a wave of grievous human rights violations and abuses for which victims and their families cry for justice.”

So who is listening to the cries for help? And will South Sudan’s political rivals settle their differences for the sake of their people?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Ateny Wek Ateny – spokesman for South Sudan President Salva Kirr.

Teresa Ongaro – regional spokeswoman for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.

Joseph Ochieno – a writer and commentator on African Affairs and a specialist on refugee issues.