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Children at a UN camp for internally displaced persons. Photo: Ashraf ShazlyAFP/Getty Images

Nearly five years into a civil war, the leaders of two warring factions in South Sudan met for talks in Ethiopia Wednesday, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The talks were the first in two years, and come as fears of genocide and famine are rising.

By the numbers: “Over a quarter of the population has been displaced from their homes. ... So we have over 3.5 million people now outside of their homes and without means for sustenance,” Katherine Almquist Knopf of National Defense University explained in a recent Council on Foreign Relations conference call. “... The situation is so bad, and the intent of the government as well as other armed actors — but principally of the government — of going after different ethnic communities, that we’ve had several very serious, very credible warnings of possible genocide unfolding in South Sudan.”

  • From the AP: "Both sides in South Sudan's civil war have been accused of widespread abuses such as gang rapes against civilians, including along ethnic lines. A number of South Sudan officials have been accused by human rights groups of profiting from the conflict and blocking the path to peace."
  • From Knopf: “Because of this dire, dire situation, what I would characterize as extreme state failure, the government of South Sudan does not control its territory, does not have a monopoly over coercive power in any meaningful way, it does not provide basic security to its citizens, and it does not deliver any public services or administer justice, and it has failed to act as a legitimate sovereign state.”

Go deeper

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

U.S. Chamber decides against political ban for Capitol insurrection

A pedestrian passes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.