After 50 years of intermittent civil war with the northern half of Sudan, South Sudan signed a cease-fire in 2005. Following the five-year truce with the north, the South Sudanese were allowed to vote on whether to become independent of the northern, Muslim controlled, part of the country. With a 97% vote for independence, South Sudan became a nation in July 2011.
The following quote comes from the government of South Sudan’s website shortly following the election:
“The Republic of South Sudan is at the tail end of economic development. All the indices of human welfare put its citizens at the bottom of humanity. The independence we are now celebrating transfers the responsibility for our destiny and reversing the tide of underdevelopment to our own hands. The challenges are great but we must begin the task of nation building immediately.”
In 2013, after just 2 years of relative peace, a civil war broke out again. An attempted coup d’etat for the presidency led to nationwide fighting between the two largest tribes. The violence resulted in many deaths and 4 million displaced citizens, who fled to refugee camps in South Sudan and in neighboring countries. Currently 1.4 million South Sudanese people are living in resettlement camps in Northern Uganda.
Listed below are 10 of those challenges:
1. Over 7.1 million people, half the country’s population, are facing extreme and deadly hunger (Oxfam International)
2. The International Red Cross states that the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is second to Syria.
3. More than 90% of the population in South Sudan lives on less than 1 dollar a day.
4. One out of 6 women who become pregnant will die.
5. South Sudan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world.
6. South Sudan has the lowest routine immunization coverage in the world.
7. Only 16% of South Sudanese children ever go to school and only 1.9% complete primary school.
8. South Sudan has the highest illiteracy rate in the world.
9. Eighty percent of the population has no access to any toilet facility.
10. The average household lives 45 minutes from the nearest water source.