In South Sudan, daring to hope for peace
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After five years of brutal civil war in South Sudan, a peace deal signed last year by President Salva Kiir and his opponent Riek Machar is providing hope at last. Our reporters went to Bentiu, one of the cities worst affected by the war and home to 100,000 displaced people. Our team also witnessed negotiations between former enemies who are now praying side by side for a shared future.
Nine months after the ratification of a peace deal by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO rebel leader Riek Machar, violence in the country is subsiding. Several people have admittedly been killed since then, but far fewer than what the country has seen in five years of civil war.
Since December 15, 2013, the armed conflict between supporters of Salva Kiir and those of Riek Machar has left hundreds of thousands dead and forced four million people to flee their homes.
Today, despite difficulties in negotiating the peace agreement, the signatories are for now keeping their promises. Rebels and members of the government meet regularly to negotiate the details of the deal. Rebel generals have even been welcomed at an army base they had attacked many times.
Nevertheless, the violence has not completely stopped. In November, more than 150 women who had gone to get food rations were attacked by soldiers, beaten and raped. The news made headlines around the world. Since then, the United Nations has been patrolling to ensure the women’s safety and to try to prevent further violence from breaking out.
In this report, our teams take you to Bentiu, one of the cities most affected by the war. Located near the country's oil reserves, capital of Unity State and nerve centre of the conflict, it has been the scene of countless clashes between the army and the rebels. It is here that the worst massacres of recent years took place. Our reporters went to meet victims of the fighting, who are gradually returning to the city.
They also visited the country's largest camp for internally displaced people, near Bentiu. Nearly 100,000 people live there, under the protection of UN peacekeepers.
Finally, our reporters were able to attend the peace negotiations between the former enemies, who today are praying side by side for a shared future.