south sudan food crisis
South Sudan faces worsening food crisis
02:15 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Salva Kiir fired Riek Machar in 2011, which touched off the country's brutal civil war

Machar's reappointment was part of a peace deal the two men signed

Thousands of people have died in the conflict

CNN  — 

South Sudan’s President reinstated his vice president – a political rival – on Thursday as part of a peace deal to end the country’s two-year civil war, according to a presidential decree read on state television.

South Sudan, the world’s newest country, has been embroiled in one of the world’s most brutal – and under-reported – conflicts since December 2013.

President Salva Kiir ousted vice president Riek Machar in 2013, accusing soldiers loyal to Machar of attempting to stage a coup.

That sparked the current round of violence and inflamed ethnic tensions in the country. Kiir is a member of the country’s majority Dinka population, while Machar is Nuer, the country’s second-largest ethnic group.

Since the conflict started, thousands of people have been killed – some say as many as 50,000. More than 2 million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations. Almost 3 million people – nearly a quarter of the country’s population – are in “urgent need of aid.”

A report from the African Union revealed that forced cannibalism, gang rapes and death by burning had all occurred during the conflict.

Machar and Kiir signed a peace agreement in August, though clashes have continued sporadically in the country. The deal called for a transitional national unity government to be put in place by early February.

CNN’s Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.