Thu, Sep 22, 2016
The number of people who have fled South Sudan because of the country's civil war has passed the one million mark, the UN refugee agency says.
When South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011, many thought peace had finally returned to the shores of a country embroiled in crisis.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa's longest-running civil war.
But five years later, the dream still remains a nightmare as the country is still engulfed in a seemingly unending civil war that started in 2013.
In July 2011, when South Sudan became independent, Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka - the country's largest group, became the president of the new state under the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).
However, two years later President Salva Kiir, sacked his deputy Riek Machar, who is from the second largest community, the Nuer for alleged coup plotting.
Machar's sacking as vice president in 2013 has since then set off a cycle of killings that split the country along ethnic lines and drove more than two million out of their homes.
Shortly after, they only agreed to bury the hatchet after being under intense international pressure, signing a peace deal in August 2015 - and Mr Machar returned to Juba as vice-president in a unity government in April, 2016.
However, another row broke out between Mr Machar his bodyguards and the presidential guards three months later, prompting him to flee. Another member of his party has been appointed as vice-president, a move Mr Machar does not recognise.
This brewed another fresh crisis.
“The violence in July came as a major setback to peace efforts in South Sudan,” the United Nation for High commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Leo Dobbs said in a statement.
In the wake of the unrest in the country, many citizens are evacuating the country's border to other countries as refugees. The exodus, however is going through the roof in recent times, thereby generating concerns from the international community.
The number of people who have fled South Sudan because of the country's civil war has passed the one million mark, the UN refugee agency says, adding that more than 1.6 million people are also displaced within South Sudan, meaning about 20% of the population have been made homeless since December 2013. Many are expecting relief aids as well as security forces to restore peace back to the country.
The UN has expressed concerned over the renewed fighting in South Sudan. It said even before the resurgence of violence in the past week, hundreds of thousands of refugees had been sheltering in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and elsewhere since civil war began in December 2013. William Spindler, spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said the number of refugees in neighbouring countries was 835,000.
Made up of the 10 southern-most states of Sudan, South Sudan is one of the most diverse countries in Africa. It is home to over 60 different major ethnic groups, and the majority of its people follow traditional religions.
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