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South Sudan

February 2014

Peace talks have commenced in earnest as fighting escalated on the South Sudan-Ethiopian borders.

According to a BBC report, clashes have caused the deaths of at least 1000 people and forced at least 180,000 others to flee their homes as the violence escalated.

Some 75,000 displaced people are living in a refugee camp on the banks of the Nile, and the number of tents is growing every day. The report said supplies were needed urgently for the many thousands of people forced to flee their homes as a result of the rebel insurgency.

Colonel Philip Aguer, of the government’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army, confirmed in a statement that Bor — one of the main cities involved in the fighting — was in rebel hands. He also said fighting was continuing in Unity state’s western Mayom area and around the oil fields in the north.

Earlier this year, a state of emergency was declared by President Salva Kiir in Unity and Jonglei, after fighting erupted in December 2013 between supporters of President Kiir and those of his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

Meanwhile, a Durham City vicar’s son escaped from the conflict and crisis in Southern Sudan to return to his family in time for Christmas.

In a statement from the Newcastle diocese, it was revealed that Ben Bartlett, son of Rev. Canon Dr Alan Bartlett, vicar of St Giles’ and priest in charge of St Mary’s Sherburn and St Cuthbert’s Shadforth, arrived at Newcastle airport on 21 December, after five days of trying to flee the heavy fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba.

The young man and his Tearfund charity colleagues had tried on four separate occasions to leave the country, thwarted each time by a catalogue of unexpected events.