attempt. Kiir wore military fatigues rather than his now-iconic cowboy hat, the original of which was a gift from then-president George W. Bush.
“As Africa security analyst Lesley Ann Warner has noted, it’s unclear whether Kiir was telling the truth about the coup attempt, but it’s significant that he kicked by harkening back to internal conflicts within the governing Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in the early 1990s, when the SPLM was in the midst of a 20-year-long insurgency against the Khartoum government.
“Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, and Machar, from the Nuer, have been at this for a long time. Their grudge, and the ethnic cleavages it embodies, long predate South Sudan’s independence from and they now have the potential to plunge the country into even deeper chaos.
“Machar has fled the capital and the past few days have brought credible reports of heavy artillery fire and organized ethnic violence.
“There was always evidence that Kiir’s control over the country was basically non-existent,” writes Rosen.
“Travel is very dangerous,” reports Open Doors. “Airlifting students from their remote areas to the center often means refueling in now considered enemy areas. It is a risk most are unwilling to take. Road travel has also become very dangerous as both the army and the rebels have set up roadblocks looking for enemies. Anyone stopped who has the typical features or traditional facial markings of the enemy tribe is in grave danger.”
Open Doors staffers are at risk of being caught in the middle.
“Students from all tribes study together at the Emmanuel Christian Center,” said the Open Doors spokesman. “Bringing together students from these different tribes right now could be considered a provocation. Therefore, teaching is on hold. Teaching at most of Open Doors’ regional centers has also been suspended until further notice. The recent developments in South Sudan are causing much concern.”
“People are scattered. They sleep in the cold, without food or water. This calamity was never anticipated. Nobody dreamed about it. But it is here now,” said the staff member.
Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have sought refuge at U.N. compounds across Sudan. The Open Doors team had contact with a student who is at a compound in Juba who reported that “the situation in the U.N. compound is not good; people are suffering from hunger and thirst. Children have already started dying,” the staff member told
the Open Doors headquarters in the Netherlands.
The local team is particularly worried about rumors that there are many who are considering joining the fighting out of fear for their lives.
“People are badly affected,” he added. “I heard on U.N. radio yesterday evening a young child explain that she could not sit for her exams because of the war. She was supposed to study for a postponement of the exam, but was unable to do so because she had to leave all her notebooks when they fled.
“The child said her parents were crying all day over relatives that were killed and that made her very sad. Hearing her speak like that, without any hope for the future, broke my heart and left me sobbing.
“Please pray with us for peace!”
“Two and a half million South Sudanese died for the creation of this new state,” notes Clooney. “With robust international action and statesmanship by South Sudan’s leaders, millions more deaths can be prevented.”