On 9 July 2011, HART staff witnessed South Sudan become the newest nation on earth. Ever since the overwhelming result in favour of independence, 98.83% of those that voted did so for separation from the north, South Sudan has not been so united and since 2013 has instead been stuck in a bitter civil war.
Following decades of civil war that decimated South Sudan’s infrastructure, prevented development and deprived generations of children of an education, independence gave the nation and the world hope for stability in the region. This was not to be so.
In December 2013, conflict erupted once more in South Sudan, triggered by a political dispute within the ruling party. Despite remarkable efforts by local organisations, civil society, churches and many others to promote peace and reconciliation, the conflict has continued to date.
The impact on civilians has been devastating. An estimated 50-100,000 people have been killed, 1.8 million have been internally displaced and a further 546,000 have fled to neighbouring countries. Horrific human rights abuses have been committed by both sides, including killings based on perceived ethnic or political affiliation, sexual violence, abductions and the forced recruitment of children. In direct consequence to the conflict, it is estimated 5 million people will be severely food insecure and one in three children malnourished at the height of the lean season in 2017.
Access to education in South Sudan is severely limited. The conflict has set this back even further, with more than 1.17 million children having lost access to education due to conflict and displacement since December 2013, and now, only one in 100 children finishes secondary school. For girls, the picture is even worse. South Sudan has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate and lowest female literacy rate, and a girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than complete primary education.
A team from HART visited South Sudan in January 2016. We met with a number of those who have been displaced by conflict, and witnessed the devastating humanitarian situation that they are now facing. You can read their stories in the report from our visit, which is available here.