The History of South Sudan - Infographic

The history of South Sudan, the world's youngest country, is marked by decades of war and displacement. Each time things appear to be stable, they spiral out of control again. This all too familiar pattern repeated itself this past month. In July over 10,000 South Sudanese were displaced after fighting broke out between various ethnic and political factions. Two years ago, the exact same scenario occurred. Fighting erupted between supporters of South Sudan's president Salva Kiir and vice-president Riek Machar who are from different Sudanese tribes. Thousands were killed and by April 2014 over a million South Sudanese had been forcibly displaced from their homes and villages.

Machar was charged with treason, and became a fugitive. After months of intense fighting a peace deal was brokered last August, and in April Machar returned to Juba to be reinstated as vice-president of a new unity government. But "peace" has not lasted for very long.

Early in July fighting broke out in Juba again, and though a ceasefire was signed on July 11, many doubt that the violence will remain dormant for long. The citizens of South Sudan are living in fear. Those who have left their homes are afraid to return while those who remain are just waiting for the day they have to leave. These cycles are much too familiar to them after decades of unrest.

While many journalists frame this conflict as primarily political in nature, the history of South Sudan reveals a different story. South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011. During their fight for independence the South Sudanese were politically united against the violence and tyranny of the north. But now that independence has been secured, politics has become a convenient excuse to resurrect age old violence between warring tribes. President Kiir is from the Dinka tribe, while vice-president Machar is ethnically Nuer, and though there has been disputes between them about "dictatorial tendencies," coups, and assassination attempts, the conflict is at its heart a tribal one.

Further Reading

An excellent long form article on tribal conflict throughout the history of South Sudan.

A detailed timeline of the history of South Sudan.