South Sudan crisis: Conflicts hits three states

South Sudanese government soldiers in newly recaptured Bentiu, 12 January Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Government troops have been fighting rebels since December in the world's newest state

Government and rebel forces have clashed in three states in South Sudan, just days after their leaders agreed to unconditionally end fighting.

A rebel spokesman blamed the government for attacking their positions, including oil fields.

But the army accused the rebels of restarting the conflict, saying their attacks were repelled.

On Friday, regional body Igad gave the two sides a 15-day deadline to end conflict or risk sanctions.

The fighting has displaced some 1.5 million people and more than seven million are at risk of hunger and disease, the United Nations (UN) says.

The latest violence broke out in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states, where rebels allege that oil fields had been targeted, says BBC Africa's Emmanuel Igunza in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rebel leader Riek Machar (c) denies government claims that he was plotting a coup
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Nearly 100,000 people are taking refuge at UN camps

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar held two days of talks in Addis Ababa last week in a mediation effort brokered by Igad (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development), which groups eight East African states.

The two leaders agreed to an "unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities".

Igad warned that it will impose sanctions, including travel bans and an arms embargo, on both sides if fighting did not end.

Previous ceasefire deals signed by the two sides have collapsed.

The conflict broke out in December when Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar - his sacked deputy - of plotting a coup.

Mr Machar denied the allegation, but marshalled a rebel army to fight the government.

The fighting has severely disrupted South Sudan's oil production, and aid agencies have warned the the poor East African state could be hit by a famine next year.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after a long and bloody conflict, to become the world's newest state.

Image caption Fighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in December 2013. It followed a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar. The squabble has taken on an ethnic dimension as politicians' political bases are often ethnic.
Image caption Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.
Image caption Both Sudan and the South are reliant on oil revenue, which accounts for 98% of South Sudan's budget. They have fiercely disagreed over how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state - at one time production was shutdown for more than a year. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north.
Image caption The two Sudans are very different geographically. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.
Image caption After gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan is the world's newest country - and one of its poorest. Figures from 2010 show some 69% of households now have access to clean water - up from 48% in 2006. However, just 2% of households have water on the premises.
Image caption Just 29% of children attend primary school in South Sudan - however, this is also an improvement on the 16% recorded in 2006. About 32% of primary-age boys attend, while just 25% of girls do. Overall, 64% of children who begin primary school reach the last grade.
Image caption Almost 28% of children under the age of five in South Sudan are moderately or severely underweight. This compares with the 33% recorded in 2006. Unity state has the highest proportion of children suffering malnourishment (46%), while Central Equatoria has the lowest (17%).

Related Topics

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites