MALAKAL, South Sudan — In places where the fighting is fiercest, no one is even attempting to count the dead.
Nearly half the population of the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, is in danger of going hungry. New atrocities are reported almost every day. And more than 1.5 million people have fled their homes, the vast majority to swampland villages where they hope rising waters during the rainy season will keep them safe from marauding soldiers.
“There is no more country,” said John Khamis, 38, who has spent much of his nation’s existence sheltered in a camp on a United Nations base. “I don’t know how the fighting stops now.”
It has been less than two years since a power struggle between the nation’s leaders plunged South Sudan into chaos, inflaming old ethnic tensions that almost immediately tore this new country apart.
Despite repeated attempts at peace, some of the deadliest fighting of the civil war has erupted in the last few months.
The warring leaders are unflinchingly entrenched in their positions, and the kinds of abuses that shocked the world early in the conflict, including the use of child soldiers and deliberate attacks on civilians, are reoccurring with new ferocity.