WHERE / AFRICA / SOUTH SUDAN /
South Sudan gained independence on July 9, 2011 after years of conflict with the North resulting in 1.5 million deaths. A January referendum showed overwhelming support for separation. While this is an occasion for celebration, and Sudan was the first country to officially recognize South Sudan, relations between the two countries are still complicated; challenges include dividing debts and oil, border disputes, and citizenship.
South Sudan has a population of about 8.5 million, and is the size of Spain and Portugal together. Official languages are English and Arabic, Juba is the capital, and oil is the main export. The newest United Nations Member State, South Sudan has many challenges ahead, including security with seven active rebel groups in the region. Additionally, South Sudan is one of the world’s least developed countries with the world’s worst maternal mortality rate, high infant mortality, poor water and sanitation infrastructure, low education rate, and with 84% of women illiterate. The UN, who already has a presence in Sudan, will be sending peacekeeping troops to South Sudan as well, among fears of increased border conflicts.
TransAfrica supports autonomy and democratic processes within South Sudan. With significant concerns about the livelihoods of South Sudan’s most marginal communities, the new government must consult with domestic human rights and civil society organizations to address social inequity head-on.