South Sudan Celebrates Becoming a Nation, Prepares to Overcome Challenges


"My government will stand by you as you form the conditions for a lasting peace and prosperity," she said. "The task is great, the responsibility is yours, but so long as you continue to seek a more perfect union, you will never be alone."

High Expectations and Challenges Ahead

For all the bleak indicators, the people of South Sudan, who voted almost unanimously for independence, remain hopeful.

They say that even with all of the problems, freedom from Khartoum's repressive regime now gives South Sudan the chance to determine its own destiny. A right it hasn't had for more than 50 years.

Sentino Makuac, 19, was born in northern Sudan, near Khartoum.

Though his family hails from the south, Khartoum is the only home he's ever known.

During the referendum in January, Makuac and his family picked up and moved back to Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

They left their jobs, their schools, their homes, and arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Makuac's family, like thousands of returnees, came back without a promise of work or housing. But he says the promise of freedom was more than enough motivation to return.

"Here we have rights as compared to the situation back in Khartoum," Makuac told ABC News. "Life in Khartoum was difficult because people would always question us…and this was done in a manner that put your life at risk. But ever since we came to Juba it has been easy and we can talk freely," he says.

He is hoping that the government will eventually provide his family with land and a place to live.

Those expectations, however, are exactly what humanitarian organizations fear.

The new government and aid agencies have been overwhelmed with not only returnees, but also refugees from recent violence in the border regions taking place in the lead-up to independence.

"The Euphoria will calm down..but then the actual service delivery to the population will come to the forefront," said Kurt Tjossem, the regional director if the International Rescue Committee. "There's not one strong area in this new nation so everything is going to have to be built up simultaneously, If there's not enough resources, choices will have to be made and that will be difficult because every area needs help."

Tjossem warns that conflict will continue to widen if people outside of Juba feel like their needs are not being met by the new government.

"The south has been united against a common enemy but now a lot of factions are going to be looking at their roles in the newly formed country and if they're not satisfied they may take up arms," he said.

Already there's been an uptick in violence in border areas between northern troops and southern rebels.

Conflict in the oil-rich border area of Abyei, which was supposed to have a separate referendum to determine which country it will be a part of, saw tens of thousands of people displaced as northern troops took over the area unilaterally declaring it a part of the north.

The border region of South Kordofan, which will definitely be a part of the north, has also seen conflict with more than 100,000 people being displaced and unknown casualties from clashes between northern troops and southern-allied rebels.

South Sudan and Sudan

The United Nations has warned that without intervention the area could be on the verge of genocide, similar to Darfur.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...