Thousands of Christians Flee South Sudan
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 26,000 have left the world’s newest country since new fighting between government troops and rival forces erupted July 7.
Troops loyal to Vice President Riek Machar have fought those supporting President Salva Kiir ever since Kiir removed Machar from office in late 2013. The president said he was forced to take the action when Machar and his forces attempted a coup against him and the South Sudan government.
The government is dominated by members of Kiir’s Dinka tribe, an ethnic group which constitutes about 36 percent of the South Sudan population. Machar and his followers are Nuer, about 15 percent.
At least 300,000 people have died in the civil war and both sides have accused the other of committing human rights atrocities against the citizenry. Last August, negotiators signed a cease-fire agreement in Ethiopia, but sporadic fighting has occurred ever since.
A total of 1 million people have been internally displaced, 400,000 people have fled to neighboring countries.
U.N. Refugee Agency spokesman Andreas Needham said more than 90 percent of the refugees arriving in Uganda this month are women and children. The refugees report fighting is underway in South Sudan’s Magwi region where troops are reportedly stealing property and recruiting men and young boys to join their efforts.
South Sudan became an independent nation on July 9, 2011, after more than 20 years of civil war with the Islamic government of Sudan.
The country is the 193rd member state of the United Nations, and its people are primarily Christian and animist.