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Security: UPDATE 6: Clashes between armed groups possible in Juba, South Sudan, despite ceasefire. Lax security, threat posed by armed criminals. Remain vigilant.

This alert affects Juba

This alert began 15 Jul 2016 10:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Jul 2016 23:59 GMT.

Key Points

  • Individual security incidents between rival forces likely to escalate rapidly to large-scale fighting
  • Use of heavy weaponry, including artillery, poses a high threat of collateral damage
  • Significant threat posed by armed criminals and undisciplined security forces
  • 1800-0600 curfew in effect

Updated Information
Clashes in Juba are possible between armed forces affiliated with two opposing factions: the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and groups aligned with the Sudan People's Liberation Army - In Opposition (SPLA-IO). Although fighting has paused since a July 11 ceasefire negotiated between President Salva Kiir and SPLA-IO leader First Vice President Riek Machar, a single security incident could trigger a return to full-scale hostilities (map). Eyewitnesses reported hearing sporadic gunfire on several occasions in the capital since the lull in full-scale hostilities. Foreign military and charter flights have evacuated large numbers of Asian, European, and North American foreign nationals, and the UN plans to relocate non-critical staff from Juba. A 1800 to 0600 curfew is in effect, and roadblocks manned by government security forces are highly likely across the city.

The threat to personal safety remains severe for individuals operating in the city; at least several hundred people died during heavy fighting that began July 8. Clashes in early July focused on the Jebel, Gudele, Hai Cinema, Nyakuron West, and Tomping areas of Juba. The SPLA-IO have withdrawn from their Jebel area encampment to an undisclosed location reportedly in Juba, and SPLA troops have set up defensive positions along the Yei and Gudele roads. Aerial bombardments and heavy weaponry were used frequently with little restraint during the fighting, causing significant collateral damage and injury. The UN Mission in South Sudan's (UNMISS) facilities were struck by small arms and shelling, and two peacekeepers were killed when their armored vehicle was hit by tank fire. Unexploded ordnance in the city is also likely to pose a threat until mine-action workers can declare safe areas in which fighting occurred.

There is minimal reliable security provision in Juba; consider driving dangerous throughout the city. Security forces have apparently engaged in looting on some private properties in Juba; the city will likely see increased levels of criminal violence affecting both locals and foreigners until the situation stabilizes. The UN reported its staff members were targeted during the fighting, and a foreign NGO worker was sexually assaulted. UN peacekeepers have conducted limited patrols in Juba, but report their movements have been restricted by local security forces, and are unlikely to be able to guarantee security. The Ugandan Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) sent a large convoy to evacuate its citizens from South Sudan on July 14, but it is unclear if the UPDF will provide additional security.

Juba International Airport (JUB) reopened on July 12; however, flights could face significant delays and cancellations, and JUB may close with little warning. Kenya Airways (KQ) resumed commercial flights to JUB on July 14, and other airlines are expected to begin operating flights if the ceasefire holds. Security forces have refused to allow South Sudanese with dual nationality to board planes.

Expect shortages of fuel, water, and essential goods, and severe power disruptions. Violent protests over food are possible.

Background and Analysis
The security situation is likely to remain highly tenuous. The fact that fighting began while the President was in a meeting with Machar has brought into question Kiir's level of control over the SPLA. Kiir and Machar were discussing a series of security incidents, including the alleged shooting of SPLA-IO officers at SPLA checkpoints. Ethnic Dinka hardliners in the SPLA opposed to a peace agreement with Machar are suspected of attempting to provoke the SPLA-IO into returning to civil war. Before the fighting, the SPLA was accused of deploying Dinka loyalist militia and failing to withdraw troops fully from a 25-km (15.5-mile) demilitarized zone around the city, in violation of the accord. Kiir and the SPLA-IO have requested that an international force be sent to establish a buffer zone between the two sides.

The recent violence demonstrated that UNMISS lacks the capacity to bring a halt to large-scale hostilities, and underlined its limited ability to ensure the security of its own headquarters, including protection of civilians sites (POCs). The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) East-African regional body has called for the expansion of UNMISS' mandate, including the creation of a rapid intervention force, and has offered to contribute troops. The Ugandan troops deployed in South Sudan could potentially serve this function, but would be regarded with suspicion by the SPLA-IO, as they sided with SPLA during the civil war. Unconfirmed reports state the Ugandan convoy has already been attacked. The death of Chinese soldiers serving as peacekeepers and positive overtures by Russian diplomats to US and UN calls for an arms embargo increase the likelihood that new and more stringent sanctions will be placed upon South Sudan to inhibit a return to civil war.

Advice
Remain vigilant, and be prepared, for a sudden and rapid deterioration of the security environment. Drive in guarded convoys if moving about in public is unavoidable. Register, and maintain contact, with your diplomatic mission. Keep a small bag packed with travel documents and essential items, and be prepared to assemble quickly at designated points if foreign governments arrange evacuations. Stay away from security installations and large concentrations of soldiers. Confirm flights; overbooking is likely on outgoing flights. Keep battery-powered devices charged, and limit to essential use only. When possible, stockpile water and nonperishable food supplies. Obtain a satellite phone for emergency use, cellular networks are likely be disrupted if fighting resumes.

Related Advice: Increasing your personal security while traveling.
Related Advice: Managing the threat of landmines.
Related Advice: General guidance for persons living overseas or on extended visits, particularly in high risk destinations and during time of unrest or war.
Related Advice: Recognizing suspicious objects and the threat of hidden explosives while traveling.


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The information in this document is provided by WorldAware, Inc. While WorldAware constantly monitors the changing world situation and strives for accuracy and timeliness, this information is provided to you on an "as is" basis, and your use of this information is at your own risk.


For more information or assistance, please feel free to contact us or call +1.410.573.3860.
 

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