South Sudan: The world's newest country facing a humanitarian crisis

South Sudan, located in the centre of Africa, is the world's newest country.

It gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011, following years of civil war and a referendum in which it voted overwhelmingly for independence.

Conditions in South Sudan are leading to the world's fastest growing refugee crisis. Credit: ITV News

Despite its reserves of oil, South Sudan is one of the least developed nations in the world.

But as civil war rages on, there are reports of rapes and ethnic cleansing.

Food shortage is also rife leading to what is becoming the world's fastest growing refugee crisis.

Close to one million refugees, including some 600,000 children, have fled to neighbouring Uganda.

Many children arrive without parents, and every refugee has a horror story to tell.

  • Why is violence in South Sudan continuing?

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (left) and rebel leader Riek Machar. Credit: AP

The escalating conflict in South Sudan which is putting the country on "a trajectory towards mass atrocities" is being fought along ethnic lines.

It stems from a dispute between President Salva Kiir and former deputy Riek Machar, who was sacked in 2013 after Kiir accused him of launching a coup - an allegation Machar strongly denied.

Kiir is from the Dinka, South Sudan's biggest ethnic group, while Machar is from the second largest group, the Nuer.

The country's army split into rival factions, with one half supporting Kiir and the other Machar.

The civil war in South Sudan has spiralled since July 2016. Credit: AP

Tens of thousands of people died during a bloody two-year civil war until a peace deal agreed in August 2015 which ended the conflict.

But violence erupted once more in the South Sudan's capital city Juba and there are now fears for the prospect of a potential genocide.

In December, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the people of South Sudan has suffered too much and urged its Security Council to act now.

Read more: South Sudan: Hunger, malaria and families torn apart

  • The human cost

Many children are suffering from malnutrition amid the latest crisis. Credit: ITV News

Millions of South Sudanese have been affected by the ongoing conflict and the nation is facing its worst food crisis since independence.

Almost half the population is urgently in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UK's Department for International Development, who have pledged £103 million to help the country in 2016/17.

Some one in 10 children die before their 10th birthday due to preventable and treatable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

  • Rise in violence

South Sudanese from the Nuer group shelter at a United Nations base amid fears of targeted killings. Credit: AP

The ethnic tensions have led to “horrific violence” being perpetrated against civilians including assault, targeted killings and mutilation, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

A UN guard oversees a camp for displaced people in South Sudan. Credit: ITV News
  • A growing refugee crisis

Nearly two million South Sudanese are thought to be internally displaced within the country.

  • Newly opened Uganda refugee camp 'one of biggest in the world'

Refugees from South Sudan at a camp in Bidi Bidi, northern Uganda. Credit: AP

Thousands have also fled to neighbouring countries since the renewed violence erupted last year, with the vast majority going to Uganda.

Uganda is now struggling to cope with the influx of refugees from South Sudan, with more than 2,000 arriving daily.

According to Save the Children, the vast majority are women and children, fleeing the conflict in the Central Equatoria region.

Bidi Bidi camp in northern Uganda only opened in September 2016, but has already become one of the biggest refugee camps in the world.

UK International Development Minister James Wharton reiterated the United Nations' call for the international community to "step up" and help encourage the "longer-term stability of South Sudan and the region".