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The country is both beautiful and tragic as hunger and violence take hold.
GlobalPost's Tristan McConnell returned to South Sudan this month to report on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict there which reignited six months ago, forcing 1.5 million people from their homes and threatening to push some to the brink of starvation.
As a trailer to his dispatch next week, here are 14 photographs from the town of Leer in Unity State, South Sudan. Leer is in rebel hands after fierce fighting and where hunger stalks the land.
For more photos from South Sudan, and elsewhere, check out Tristan's Instagram feed (@t_mcconnell) and please do check back next week for the full story.
The endlessness of the Sudd, a vast swamp in South Sudan that is fed by the White Nile and the rains and expands and contracts with the seasons. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
Leer was ravaged by war in January. A UN assessment of satellite imagery determined that over 1,500 structures were burned to the ground as government and rebel soldiers fought over the town. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
A runway, believe it or not. When it rains only helicopters can land further isolating Leer and its people. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
The mysteriously named 'Simon Tyler International Airport' in Leer is nothing more than a shipping container and windsock. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
Signs of fighting: a bullet hole in a truck's windscreen outside Leer. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
"Wellcome IN LEER": a rebel soldier stands guard outside a hotel requisitioned as a military base and administrative headquarters. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
The inauspicious gateway to Leer: a dirt road, a shack selling mobile phone scratch cards, an old man slumped under a palm tree and a broken down truck. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
The food warehouse at Leer hospital was looted and burned during fighting for the town earlier this year. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
The view through a broken window in the ransacked emergency room at Leer hospital. Aid agency MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has run the hospital here for 25-years. When war reached Leer in January the hospital was looted and partly burned leaving 270,000 without access to medical care. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
Children are weighed... (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
... and their height measured before being put on a special feeding program run by MSF in Leer where severe malnutrition is on the rise after months of conflict.(Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
Nyaway Kuony Thiec with her mother and her twin sons both of whom are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The boys were healthy until fighting forced them from their homes and into the swamp where they survived eating wild roots. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
Where there is no conflict there is no lack of food: in Nyal, a small town to the south of Leer is protected from the war by the vastness of the Sudd, houses are not burned down, food stores are safe and crops have been planted in time. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)
A United Nations World Food Program (WFP) helicopter flies away after delivering aid items in Leer. The town - and region - is almost entirely cut off overland because of heavy rain and conflict. (Tristan McConnell/GlobalPost)