South Sudan marked its 10th anniversary on July 9, 2021 as one of the world’s poorest countries with 8 million people, or two thirds of the population, dependent on humanitarian aid. The United Nations Children Fund warns that about 300,000 children under the age of five are at risk of starvation. And Tendayi Sengwe, who works with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South Sudan, says the group has worked with the people in southern Sudan “since the 1980s, before South Sudan was a country, and always in response to the needs caused by conflict and violence”. He says “the scars of violence” dominate their lives. In 2020, women and children comprised nearly a quarter of the patients treated by the ICRC.
Deutsche Welle’s Cristina Krippahl writes that some experts see little hope for the country as long as the current politicians remain in power. “You should give room to a new crop of leaders who’ll reflect with a new mindset the reality and the diversities of a post-conflict South Sudan,” Andrews Atta-Asamoah, Senior Researcher at the South African Institute for Security Studies, said. “That is what they really need at the moment.”
A statement of congratulations on the 10th anniversary from the “Troika” (United States, United Kingdom, and Norway) says that while the first ten years of the country’s history have seen much suffering, ” through it all, the South Sudanese people have shown resilience”. The Troika says that the great challenge now facing South Sudan is to recapture the sense of unity, strength, and hope that prevailed on July 9 ten years ago.
Independence followed 40 years of conflict with the authoritarian rulers of Sudan, and internal conflict has marred most of the years since. Peacebuilders in South Sudan, and their well-wishers around the world, hope that the 2020 peace agreement among warring factions will hold and the legacy of war can at last be defeated