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Recent Events and the International Response

In addition to ongoing issues of violence and upheaval, several members of the international community have been critical of alleged human rights violations and have expressed ongoing concerns about the actions of both the ruling party within the government and other political groups. The violence is mostly along ethnic lines, between the Nuer and Dinka, which tend to match political divisions in South Sudan. The Dinka, which constitute the majority of the ruling party, have denied many of the massacres and much of the violence that has occurred. They report the death count at 500, a number many dismiss as far lower than reality.

Over the course of 2013, violence between the two groups escalated, with international involvement diminishing as a result of the growing danger. The ongoing conflict erupted following a political dispute on December 15, in which President Salva Kiir accused the former vice president, Riek Machar, of plotting to overthrow the government. Kiir is Dinka and Machar is Nuar. Machar rejected the allegation and the US has stated it has seen no proof to support either claim.

As a result of this violence, on December 22, 2013, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) announced that it would be fully evacuating all nonessential personnel from the region. On December 23, the US deployed 150 military personnel to Djibouti in preparation for a possible full evacuation of US citizens due to the rising violence within South Sudan. This followed an evacuation effort in which four US soldiers were wounded. Over 300 US officials and citizens have been evacuated and UNMISS has fortified its military presence in the nation following an attack on a UNMISS base.

Working with the UNMISS, the US and other international players, including Bangladesh and Ethiopia, have been trying to avoid a second civil war in the region. There is a growing concern by Congress and the White House that there is not much the US can do at this point. Talks have been organized in Ethiopia between the two sides in an effort to encourage peace, but as of yet that has not been achieved. A conditional truce was agreed upon on December 27, but this is viewed by most observers as a temporary fix.

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