JUBA - A South Sudanese official objected Monday after a U.S. NGO ranked the young nation as the world's most fragile state, saying the government has had some success as it works to end the conflict that got it onto the list in the first place.
"We are managing the crisis... we are coming out from a hole and our people are helped with services they need... And when you are somebody managing your crisis, you cannot be put in a category [with] those countries that have tried to and could not succeed," foreign affairs ministry spokesman Mawien Makol Arik said.
"We are succeeding,” in spite of having to overcome huge challenges, he added.
The authors of the list, compiled by the Fund for Peace, should have taken into consideration that fighting in South Sudan has brought development projects to a halt, Arik said.
“We unfortunately went into crisis that turned our country from a development path to a humanitarian management country," Arik said.
He said the international community has a role to play to help South Sudan get off the annual Fund for Peace list of fragile states.
"We can be a failed state if help does not come to us on time... We can be a failed state if the international community stands idly by to see South Sudan to go that path," he said.
South Sudan made its debut on the Fund for Peace's Fragile States Index in 2012, when it ranked fourth.
"The country’s independence (in 2011), while initially giving cause for celebration, is now giving only cause for concern as its politics and leadership grows increasingly fractious, and mass killings – especially targeting specific ethnic groups – gain momentum," the Fund for Peace said.
Trying to fix the state
Arik said the government is working hard to keep South Sudan from becoming a failed state. President Salva Kiir’s government is doing all it can to ensure a deal is reached very soon to end the fighting that began in December, he said.
The fact that IGAD, the regional bloc mediating peace talks in Addis Ababa, adjourned the negotiations last week after the opposition failed to show up, has not helped, but Arik insisted that, in contrast to other countries on the list, progress is being made in South Sudan.
“After a month, we came and said, 'Now let us find a solution.' It has never happened in Somalia, it has never happened in places like Central African Republic, even in DRC.
"It took them years before they thought about a solution. That is why we cannot be compared with these other countries. It is only five months since the crisis occurred and we are pursuing peace,” he said.
No official death toll has been released for the conflict in South Sudan, but the U.N has estimated that at least 10,000 people have been killed. Some U.N. officials say they fear the number is much higher than that.
Recent U.N. reports also show that 1.5 million people have been displaced, and the international community has warned that disease is crippling the country, already weakened by conflict, and famine is looming.