South Sudan: The History of a Young Country in Crisis

While most of its people long for peace, the brief history of South Sudan as Africa’s youngest nation has been plagued by ongoing wars and instability. With at least 64 different tribes and ethnic groups, unity has been elusive and peace short-lived.

Decades of War between North and South

Long periods of civil wars historically raged between the northern and southern peoples of Sudan, with a predominantly Muslim north, and a diverse Catholic and animist religious population in the south. Stronger infrastructure in northern Sudan also contrasted with a greater rural and agrarian lifestyle that characterized the southern population.

Following a ten-year reprieve when the Addis Ababa accord ended the first civil war, South Sudan once again fought for sovereignty against its northern neighbor and liberation from sharia law. This bloody battle waged for many years, from 1983 until 2005.

A tentative peace agreement between north and south was finally achieved more than 20 years later in 2005, but not until over 2 million people had been killed and 4 million refugees were displaced inside and outside the nation. Years of grueling battle destroyed economies, infrastructure, and farmlands, creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

Independence and Civil War within South Sudan

The tentative peace agreement of 2005 laid the groundwork for South Sudan’s independence, which would be officially recognized in 2011. But the much hoped for times of peace and liberation were fleeting. Relations between Sudan and South Sudan remained volatile, particularly concerning oil resources and disputed border territories.

Internally, a fragile coalition in the newly independent nation’s government would not stay together. By 2013 a new civil war erupted, this time within South Sudan itself, when the president alleged that a coalition backing the vice president attempted a coup to overthrow his government.

Five years of brutal civil war ensued, further dismantling what was left of South Sudan’s resources and infrastructure, and beleaguering its war-weary people. In 2018, government and opposition forces reached a power sharing agreement to end the civil war.

Humanitarian Concerns

The fallout from years of fighting and violence has taken a toll on this country, resulting in widespread humanitarian crises. The situation in South Sudan is dire. At least 80 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty. Years of fighting have decimated the economy and infrastructure of cities, towns, roads, and villages. Brutal attacks arising from tribal infighting continue to create more refugees and orphans. Government sponsored healthcare and social services are non-existent. Diseases such as typhoid and malaria plague the people. And the mother/infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the world.

A staggering amount of South Sudan’s children have become orphans. It’s estimated at least 60 percent of South Sudan’s two million refugees are orphaned children. Seventy percent of the nation’s children aren’t even in school. And an estimated six million people face crisis-level food insecurity, requiring urgent assistance. With the onset of massive flooding caused by natural disaster, 2021 became the worst food insecurity year in South Sudan since its independence. Humanitarian organizations forewarn that conditions signal 2022 could prove even worse.

Creating Hope

Since 1998, Sudan Relief Fund has been on the ground working tirelessly to provide lifesaving help to people in desperate circumstances in South Sudan, and to lay the groundwork for long term solutions.

Sudan Relief Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to bringing food, safe drinking water, clothing, shelter, medical attention, education, and hope to the people of South Sudan. Since our inception, with prayers and donations of faithful supporters, we have made very real progress under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

How You Can Help

Sudan Relief Fund supports projects such as hospitals, schools, children’s homes, trauma rehabilitation centers, and programs for agricultural and clean water initiatives, among many others.” to “Sudan Relief Fund supports projects such as hospitals, schools, children’s homes, trauma rehabilitation centers, and programs for agricultural and clean water initiatives, among many others. We’ve had the privilege of seeing lives saved, communities restored, and hope created.

All of these programs are made possible by donor support and prayers. With your help, we can continue our mission to save lives, relieve suffering, and bring transformational aid to people in desperate need.

If you would like to help, give a one-time or ongoing gift here.

Would you like to pray with us?  Sign up for our email prayer group. You’ll receive weekly emails sharing important needs to pray for, and join a faith community around the globe praying for people in this forgotten part of the world.

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