With a population of around eight million, South Sudan became independent in July 2011 following a referendum. After decades of conflict in which more than two million people are believed to have died and in which tens of thousands of women and children were reported to have been taken into slavery, the country faces enormous social and economic challenges.
Confronted with limited resources, inadequate physical and administrative infrastructure and the legacy of conflict, the new state immediately experienced inter-ethnic violence and famine. Violence evolved into full-scale civil war at the end of 2013. The fighting has resulted in thousands of casualties and displaced more than a million people, including up to 400,000 who fled to neighbouring Chad. A report issued by the UN Mission in South Sudan in May 2014 and a report issued by Human Rights Watch in August 2014 both present evidence of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, carried out by government and rebel forces.