The United States has ordered more of its embassy staff out of South Sudan, saying the move was due to a “deteriorating security situation,” even as opposing sides agree to talks, Reuters reports.
Though South Sudan’s government and rebels scheduled talks to begin January 1st, the drawdown of U.S. personnel shows deep concern about the likelihood of peace negotiations stemming from these meetings. The embassy withdrawal comes on the heels of fighting reported in the key town of Bor, which has changed hands three times since the unrest began.
Violence began in the country on December 15th, when loyalists to president Salva Kiir and rebels backing former vice president Riek Machar started fighting against one another. Kiir and Machar represent the two largest ethnic groups in South Sudan, the Dinka and Nuer. As the world’s newest country, the South Sudanese still heavily identify along ethnic, not national, lines.
Since fighting broke out on December 15th, more than a thousand people have been killed and over 200,000 have fled their homes, raising the threat of a civil war pitting Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer.
Publication Date: January 3, 2014.