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FEW anniversaries offer less cause for celebration than that marked on December 15 in South Sudan.
On December 15, 2013, a simmering power struggle between the countrys president Salva Kiir and sacked vice-president Riek Machar erupted into gunfire that quickly degenerated into a full-scale civil war.
As the conflict enters its fifth year, no peace in sight, the data associated with the humanitarian crisis is numbing:7.6 million people in the country need assistance for their day-to-day survival; 2.1 million have fled to live as refugees in neighbouring states; 1.9 million are displaced within South Sudan; 4.8 million are estimated to be severely food insecure (a figure expected to rise in the coming months); and almost 1.1 million children under five are acutely malnourished.
For those still inside South Sudan, violence and human rights violations continue unchecked and have become a persistent reality for civilians, the UNs emergency aid coordination arm, OCHA, said, as it put the cost of addressing needs at $1.7 billion.
The conflict has also spread into previously peaceful regions such as Equatoria.
Meanwhile, the economy is tanking and the cost of living soaring, especially in urban areas. In the capital, Juba, inflation topped 180% this year. A cholera epidemic of record duration it began in June 2016 and is expected to continue into 2018 is just one example of the countrys major health crisis.