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THE UN envoy for South Sudan David Shearer recently said fighting had diminished greatly since a September peace agreement.
He may have spoken too soon. Just over a week ago itemerged that clashes in the Equatoria region have displaced about 8,000 people internally and sent 5,000 more fleeing across the border into eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which is in the midst of an Ebola outbreak. Most of the refugees and IDPs are women, children, and the elderly many traumatised after they “witnessed violent incidents, including armed men reportedly murdering and raping civilians and looting villages,” according to Babar Baloch, spokesman for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.
The clashes began last month between the army and the National Salvation Front, or NAS, one of more than 70 armed groups in South Sudan and one that didn’t sign last year’s accord. Five years of civil war have left 1.9 million South Sudanese internally displaced and 2.4 million living as refugees in neighbouring countries.