150 dead, thousands displaced in South Sudan after days of violence

Children in a displaced persons camp in South Sudan.
(Image credit: Charles Lomodong/AFP/Getty Images)

In South Sudan, more than 150 people have died since violence broke out last week in the capital of Juba, and despite a ceasefire being called on Monday, heavy gunfire could still be heard throughout the city after it went into effect.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for an "immediate" arms embargo and sanctions against political and military leaders blocking the peace deal. "Yet again, the leaders of South Sudan have failed their people," he said. "Rarely has a country's conduct squandered so much promise so quickly." An army spokesman told the BBC soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir have been ordered back to their barracks, and those who refuse will be arrested.

On Thursday, soldiers from the Sudan People's Liberation Army, loyal to Kiir, got into an argument at a checkpoint with forces aligned with Vice President Riek Machar, leading to a shootout that left five dead. The fighting escalated on Friday, and tens of thousands of people have fled the violence, with many seeking protection at UN compounds. South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011, and a two-year civil war began in December 2013 following clashes between rival soldiers. The war left at least 50,000 dead and more than 2 million displaced, with Kiir leading the Dinka ethnic group and Machar the Nuer. Tensions in South Sudan have been high since April, when Machar returned to Juba under a peace deal that made him the first vice president and Kiir president.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.