South Sudan’s civil war has caused the death of almost 400,000 people since 2013, an estimated half of whom died violently, a new report has estimated.
Most of the deaths occurred in north-east and southern regions of the country, peaking between 2016 and 2017, according to a scientific study published by The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on Wednesday.
The findings of the latest study suggest that aid to South Sudan must be strengthened, the authors say.
“It is clear that the war has severely affected the health of the South Sudanese population, and that the humanitarian response to the crisis has been insufficient,” said Francesco Checchi, professor of epidemiology and international health at the London School of Hygiene.
South Sudan achieved independence in January 2011, the outcome of an agreement to end Africa’s longest running civil war.
But the optimism attached to the birth of a new nation quickly faded and by 2013 South Sudan had devolved into its own civil war.
A series of ceasefire agreements have failed to bring lasting peace. Ahead of the latest power-sharing agreement reached in July between President Salva Kiir and his deputy-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar, the US expressed skepticism that it would last.
"We are deeply concerned about the direction of the current peace process," the White House said in a statement.
South Sudan's political leaders “have not demonstrated the leadership required to bring genuine peace,” the statement continued. “We remain skeptical that they can oversee a peaceful and timely transition to democracy and good governance.”
The civil war has displaced more than four million civilians from their homes, over a third of the overall population. Two-thirds of the population are severely food insecure, and the humanitarian response in South Sudan is one of the largest worldwide, targeting six million people.
Professor Checchi said he hoped the study would spur action on one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. “Our estimates illuminate the human cost of the war and should spur warring parties and international actors to seek lasting conflict resolution.”