On the fifth anniversary of its independence from Khartoum, South Sudan finds itself plunged into an ever-deepening cycle of violence. Despite a peace agreement in August and the formation of a transitional government of national unity in Juba in April, fighting has escalated across the country in recent weeks. On June 24, more than 100,000 civilians were forced from their homes in the town of Wau in the northwest when a force of government soldiers and irregular Dinka militia entered the town.
The men, armed with guns, pangas and spears, went from house to house in the south and west of the town, attacking civilians and looting their property, sources in Wau told Al Jazeera. Those targeted were mainly from a group of tribes collectively known as Fertit. Dozens were killed and many more injured. According to figures from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, almost 50,000 were displaced in Wau within the first week, and the numbers have since continued to grow. The International Committee of the Red Cross told that by June 30 it had given aid to 73,000 people displaced outside the town.