More than two million people in South Sudan have been displaced and tens of thousands killed since the country descended into civil war in 2013. IBTimes UK spoke with Henry Makiwa from World Vision UK on the impact the war is having on civilians after the Red Cross warned in December that more than four millions of people are facing food shortage and severe hunger.
Makiwa explained a lot is at stake for millions of people who have been forced to leave their homes and have witnessed atrocities. World Vision as well as other right groups have been calling for factions to immediately cease violence and abuses.
Makiwa also added that as thousands routinely flee the country, neighbouring nations such as Ethiopia and Uganda are facing a humanitarian crisis comparable to the ones in Lebanon and Jordan.
What sparked the war?
War in South Sudan erupted when President Salva Kiir, from the Dinka ethnic group, accused then vice-president Riek Machar, from the Nuer group, of plotting a coup.
The accusations sparked violence in the country, where factions loyal to Kiir and Machar engaged in tit-for-tat violence that resulted in the death of thousands.
Both sides have been accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape, torture and the use of child soldiers.
New power-sharing deal
Warring sides have signed several ceasefires, all of which were later broken causing new upsurges of violence. The latest peace deal was reached in the capital Juba in August after Kiir initially refused to accommodate some of the rebels' request.
However, in October, General Johnson Oloni – head of the Shilluk militia – warned he might take up arms again after alleging the government had attacked civilians. He also expressed anger at what he perceived as the "wrongful" occupation of this tribe's land by the government and Kiir's decision to create more states. Shilluk is South Sudan's third largest tribe, after Dinka and Nuer. Both sides have accused each other of violating the August peace deal in the past few months.
On 7 January, Kiir agreed to a power sharing deal that could pave the way for a transitional government. According to it, the government would have 16 ministerial posts – including education, finance and defence - and Machar's opposition 10, including oil, interior and land. Machar-led Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) welcomed the power sharing proposal, although it does not meet all the rebels' demands.
In a decree read on state-run South Sudan Television, Kiir said: "In exercise of the powers conferred upon me under Article 11.1, Chapter 1 of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, I, Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, do hereby issue this Republic Decree [No.06/2016] for the appointment of Fifty (50) SPLM/SPLA [in opposition] Members to the Transitional National Legislative Assembly as here under."
Machar is yet to travel to the capital to accept the deal. Both Kiir and the opposition have reiterated their commitment to respecting the August agreement which, among other things, sees the reinstatement of Machar as prime minister.