News / Africa

Crisis, Conflict Overshadow S. Sudan's 3rd Independence Day

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir prays at the John Garang Memorial during events marking the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir prays at the John Garang Memorial during events marking the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.
Gabe Joselow

Three years since it won independence, South Sudan is struggling. An ongoing political struggle, inter-ethnic fighting and a deepening humanitarian crisis have pushed the world's youngest nation into chaos.
 
South Sudan's independence on July, 9 2011 was a celebration of peace.  A hard-won divorce from the Republic of Sudan marked the end of one of Africa's longest-running civil wars, and a victory for a long-oppressed population of the south. The country was welcomed into the arms of the international community with goodwill and the promise of partnership.

Dancers put on a short theatrical performance promoting unity in South Sudan and hope for a peaceful future in the war torn nation during celebrations marking three years of Independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.Dancers put on a short theatrical performance promoting unity in South Sudan and hope for a peaceful future in the war torn nation during celebrations marking three years of Independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.
x
Dancers put on a short theatrical performance promoting unity in South Sudan and hope for a peaceful future in the war torn nation during celebrations marking three years of Independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.
Dancers put on a short theatrical performance promoting unity in South Sudan and hope for a peaceful future in the war torn nation during celebrations marking three years of Independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.

But today, the country is in upheaval.
 
The numbers tell the story: More than 10,000 people have been killed since a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar erupted into violence on December 15.
 
About 1.5 million have been displaced from their homes by the conflict.  And three separate ceasefire deals between the two sides were violated almost immediately after being signed.
 
Julia Duany fled fighting in southern Sudan in the 1980s, settling with her family in the United States.
 
While she visited her home country often during that time, she decided to move back permanently after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed with Khartoum in 2005, and now works for an organization providing leadership training for women. She said the new conflict has brought back old memories of grief, loss and despair.  "Were we joking when we were celebrated three years ago?  And now we ourselves are killing each other, not somebody else," she said.
 
Government forces loyal to President Kiir have been battling rebel forces and military factions aligned with Machar, with the fighting located mostly in the areas of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states.
 
Populations huddled for safety at United Nations bases across the country have come under attack in ethnically-motivated violence, while aid agencies say hospitals have also come under assault with some patients shot in their beds.
 
Optimism about future


Peace talks being held in neighboring Ethiopia have stalled, but Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said he is still hopeful that an agreed-to transitional government will be formed in the coming months, putting peace within reach.
 
"Definitely, with the 3rd anniversary, we are optimistic we will reach peace in this coming period and before the end of this year," Lueth said.
 
A man-made humanitarian crisis continues to loom large in the country.  Mass displacement has forced many South Sudanese to miss the planting season.
 
The U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning System has raised alarms about food insecurity in the country, reporting that nearly one-third of the population is already in crisis, a situation that is likely to worsen.
 
In a phone call with reporters, Noah Gottschalk, senior policy advisor for the aid organization Oxfam America, said the conflict is limiting access to those who need it the most.

"South Sudan already had poor infrastructure and now as the rains have started, a lot of roads are inaccessible, airplanes are needed and helicopters to reach many different areas.  But access is also cut off because of ongoing fighting, because of restrictions from the parties to the conflict on the movement of humanitarian vehicles," he said.
 
National pride

But all hope is not lost. While many South Sudanese feel their leaders have failed them, a sense of patriotism and national pride remains strong.
 
Duany said she still believes in the dreams of an independent South Sudan that many, including her husband, had fought so hard for.
 
"What has happened has put us back to square one, but I think we can pick up ourselves if we have the right vision, if we have the right leadership, we can carry people along so that we can gain back the momentum that we lost December 15," she added.
 
From displacement, to famine, to never-ending conflict, South Sudan faces many obstacles in the months and years to come to realize the promises of freedom.

  • A traditional dancer takes part in celebrations marking the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence, in Juba, July 9, 2014.
  • Actors perform a play during celebrations marking the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.
  • South Sudan's President Salva Kiir prays at the John Garang Memorial during events marking the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence, in Juba July 9, 2014.
  • A Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier sings next to traditional dancers during celebrations marking the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.
  • South Sudanese dance and wave flags during celebrations marking three years of Independence at a stadium in Juba, July 9, 2014.
  • Dancers put on a short theatrical performance promoting unity in South Sudan and hope for a peaceful future in the war torn nation during celebrations marking three years of Independence in Juba, July 9, 2014.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (1)
Comments
     
by: sassa from: juba
July 12, 2014 9:16 AM
we s.sudanese only one person is disorgise us and his names is rik machar .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid