South Sudan turns ten with little to celebrate

Millions of South Sudanese need humanitarian assistance as it celebrates tenth anniversary
3 min read
08 July, 2021
The UK spotlighted the need for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan ahead of the country's tenth anniversary on Friday. This follows reports that the UK will slash aid to peacebuilding projects by over 50 percent.
More people are in need of humanitarian assistance in South Sudan today than during the country's civil war from 2013 to 2018 according to UNICEF [Getty]

South Sudan turns ten on Friday with little to celebrate as millions of its population desperately need humanitarian support according to UNICEF. 

Following years of fighting, economic deprivation and extreme weather events precipitated by climate change, some 8.3 million people in the world’s youngest country need life-saving help, including two out of every three children, the UN agency said in a statement released Tuesday, three days before the tenth anniversary of South Sudan's founding.

South Sudan’s government has struggled to address the country’s myriad of challenges after a peace deal was reached in 2018; meanwhile, international funding on aid falls far short of what is needed to assist the South Sudanese people. 

“Hopes that independence would bring a new dawn for the country’s children have faded,” said UNICEF.

“The crisis will worsen as we enter the lean season with increased risk of flooding. Lives will be lost without urgent action,” they said. 

South Sudan - a country of around 11 million people - has the highest child mortality rate and the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world. 

This year UNICEF appealed for $180 million to assist the most vulnerable in South Sudan. Six months later, the appeal is only one-third funded. 

“After 10 years of independence, South Sudan’s population doesn’t have much to celebrate,” Joshua Craze, a research fellow at the London School of Economics who has worked in South Sudan since 2008, told Al Jazeera

“Those hopeful expectations of life in the new state have only delivered for South Sudan’s elite, which has entrenched itself atop the rest of the country,” he said.

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A statement from the UK government published Thursday read: “The first ten years of this young country’s history have seen much suffering, due to conflict-related abuses, famine, flooding and disease.”

In the statement, the UK alongside Norway and the US urged for “immediate action to ensure access to humanitarian aid” in the country. The statement also expressed a wish to see political stability within the country so its people can build the nation they dreamed of in 2011. 

Yet, this call for action comes at the same time the UK is cutting aid by 59 percent to South Sudan, according to reports. 

The UK government is terminating peacebuilding projects led by Christian Aid.

“These cuts risk having a lethal effect on the chances of a lasting peace here. The Church continues to build trust between the parties and provide moral guidance through amplifying the voices of grassroots communities to build political will for peace,” said James Wani, Christian Aid’s country director in South Sudan.