Natural Resources, Violent Conflict, and Deaths amidst Crises in South Sudan

Posted: September 22, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda

Kut Alier Apollo

The late Lawyer, Kut Alier Apollo, with his uncle, Abel Alier Kuai Kut

September 21, 2017 (SSB) —- The Republic of South Sudan is a new country that marked its independence from Sudan in July 2011 following a protracted series of civil wars starting in 1955 and ended in 2005.  The first war began in 1955 and ended in 1972. But, after only eleven years of peace in 1983, the second civil war that lasted after twenty years began.

The fighting that began in 1983 ended with both sides signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.  After that Southern Sudan was granted autonomy within the greater Sudan whose lifespan ended with a referendum that took place in 2011. The referendum was held in January 2011and as a result, almost all South Sudanese voted for separation from Sudan. The voting saw South Sudanese moved the region toward secession and ultimately independence by 9th July of the same year.

With all political complications between South Sudan and Sudan that have been going on, one thing has never changed or has been clear. South Sudan is not a desert wasteland because it is occupied by the Nile’s famous waters that flow through its large clay basin which also serves a catchment area for water coming from highland regions of the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda.

In addition, unlike its arid northern neighbor, Sudan, South Sudan is also home to one of the world’s largest swamps called the Sudd wetland. It also has oil as the main natural resource that accounts for 98% of South Sudan’s revenue. Apart from oil, other natural resources available in abundant are:  Gold, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, marble, and other various rare earth metals, which were discovered but quantified yet.

Moreover, various rare earth metals that were discovered are not yet quantified to determine their values. However, prospects for diamonds, gold, chromite, copper, uranium, manganese and iron ore are optimistic. These minerals plus other natural resources make South Sudan and her citizens potentially rich.

Nevertheless, amidst this plenty, there are huge sufferings caused by the war. The war is caused by the struggle over resources. This is because of the higher the one in power the closer he is to resources and control over resources. Looking at the power and resources as the ultimate goal for leadership in South Sudan makes the conflict the most important conduct of the leaders and their supporters.

For that reason, the conflict in South Sudan is not likely to end easily since those who need power will never give or compromise to let power go. This messy situation of South Sudan puts South Sudanese ordinary citizens at the tied corner of the conflict.

In fact, the conflict is further being aggravated by the fact that some leaders in South Sudan have found it to be more beneficial than attaining peace. The clear evidence for the war being turned into a lucrative business by our leaders is that the oil is now being controlled by some individuals in the heart of the government for their own benefits.

As the Sentry Report and other commentators on oil, war, and business in South Sudan have been pointing it out oil is now being supplied or hoarded by some of the top authorities in the country for their own benefits while sustaining the war at the expenses of the ordinary citizens.

In the same way, rebels are not free either.  For example, one the reasons which I believe to have contributed to the indefinite detention of Riek Machar in South Africa is due to the discovery that he went into oil Agreement with Ukraine and Russian businessmen. This discovery was made after the July 2016 conflict when ran and left some documents somewhere.

As a matter of fact, oil and conflict in South Sudan like in other countries have become synonymous. This shows that in South Sudan, there is likelihood that the war will not end unless the illegal business in gold and oil is ended or unless the politicians realize earlier enough that there is a need for compromise and also to learn how to control their conflict of interest that makes them conduct illegal business in oil and gold while holding public office.

The situation of conflict in South Sudan is further complicated by the fact that the illegal mining of gold in Eastern Equatoria has provided for the incentive to war among our top leaders. Government officials are illegally mining gold in Kapoeta and other areas where gold is found in South Sudan.

For instance, there is a clear evidence to show that some ministers in the government have big mining companies involved in gold mining in South Sudan. The said companies are headed by foreign individuals but behind the curtain are big men and women of South Sudan.

Moreover, our citizens who are not well informed or due to poverty are selling hundreds of kilograms of gold to foreign businessmen and women in the same areas for just one bag of maize flour. Hence, selling millions of dollars with one hundred thousand Uganda shillings bag of maize flour while our authorities do not care for the misuse of this fundamental natural resource. This is because as long as they are also benefiting from this black business then everything is left To Whom It May Concern.

The whole scenario prevailing in South Sudan in regard to business in oil and gold can be properly described thus: the authorities have ganged up with foreigners to rob South Sudan and her people with precious resources. Unless South Sudanese pay attention to this illegal business and if possible raise an alarm against this serious illegal action by the authorities, the war in South Sudan may continue deep into far future.

The fact is that natural resources if mismanaged as seen in many countries of Democratic Republic of Conflict (DRC) is the clear example, they are always a source of violent conflicts, deaths of the citizens in large numbers and enrichment of politicians amidst crisis.

In summary, as the indications have indicated politicians and foreigners in South Sudan are maintaining the war as a means of accessing resources to enrich themselves by selling oil and gold illegally which the war provides space to do so freely.

In short, some of the government officials in South Sudan are exploiting natural resources for their own benefits. Oil and gold mining companies are being controlled in the heart of the government for the exclusive benefits of the government officials. This provides an incentive for war and maintenance of war in South Sudan.

The Author is a lawyer by profession; he graduated with honors in law from Makerere University, School of Law. He participated in various workshops and training in community mobilization in awareness of their constitutional rights in Uganda. He is the member of Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) and NETPIL (Network of Public Interest Lawyers) at Makerere University; he is currently doing research with NETPIL on private prosecution; he is trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); he participated in writing Street Law Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Uganda. He is practicing with Onyango and Company Advocates Bunga—Ggaba, Road Kampala He is currently staying in Kampala Uganda where he is undertaking bar course training. He can be reached through or +256784806333.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

  1. James Bol Bol says:

    South Sudan will not easily be peaceful
    unless a stable leadership is established in time room come , a leadership that will do people ‘s interests and listen to the cry and suffering of the people at the grass root level.


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