South Sudan Conflict Worsens As Rebels March On Key City

A rebel militia group known as the "White Army" is marching on the city of Bor, dampening hopes for a cease-fire in the conflict-stricken country.

South Sudan Conflict Worsens As Rebels March On Key City
United Nations

South Sudan's crisis continues to worsen. A rebel militia group known as the "White Army" began marching toward the government-controlled city of Bor Saturday, dashing hopes for a prospective cease-fire deal between the country's two warring factions.

The White Army is composed of thousands of armed young men from the Nuer ethnic group, formed during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The group has mobilized in support of their kinsman, ex-Vice President Riek Machar. (Via Enough Project, BBC)

Machar is spearheading the rebellion against South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, a member of the Dinka ethic group which makes up the majority of South Sudan's population. (Via South Sudan TV)

Fighting initially broke out in South Sudan's capital Juba when Machar allegedly attempted a coup. The violence has since spread across South Sudan and along ethnic lines, leading observers to fear a full-scale civil war. (Via  ENCA)

South Sudan's neighbors have begun putting diplomatic pressure on the fledgling country to peacefully resolve this conflict.

During an emergency summit held yesterday, neighboring leaders gave the government four days to solve the conflict internally. President Kiir agreed to extend a cease-fire to the rebels at the time. (Via CNN)

But Machar refused to come to the table unless the government released 11 political prisoners held for their alleged role in Machar's uprising. Kiir's government pledged to free eight prisoners but would not capitulate on the other three, bringing negotiations to a standstill. (Via The New York Times)

And as the violence intensifies, the casualties pile up. The United Nations estimates over 1,000 people have been killed and more than 120,000 displaced since the fighting started. (Via Al Jazeera)

But even as South Sudan teeters on the edge of civil war, some still see a glimmer of hope for the young country.

In an editorial for The Daily Beast, humanitarian activists George Clooney and John Prendergast claim swift action from the U.N., along with maturity from the country's leaders, can pull South Sudan back from the brink. "Two and a half million South Sudanese died for the creation of this new state. With robust international action and statesmanship by South Sudan's leaders, millions more deaths can be prevented."

The United Nations recently strengthened its deployment of peacekeepers in the region, and has requested $166 million in aid to deal with the country's humanitarian crisis.