Muted celebrations of South Sudan’s independence

South Sudan has been beset by conflict since December 2013, with millions of people forced to flee the land where they fought for independence for so long.


More than a year and a half of on-off talks hosted by Ethiopia have failed to end the fighting.

So how much hope is there for the future of South Sudan?

Hope, joy and a sense of freedom.

After decades of fighting with the north, the south finally seceded on July the 9th 2011and a new chapter was beginning.

Few then would have foreseen what has been described as a ‘complete tragedy’ by the United Nations.

South Sudan has suffered internal conflict and violence since the former vice president turned on the government in December 2013.

Aimee Ansari is the country director for aid group CARE.

Ms Ansari says there’s very little to celebrate.

The UN says more than two million people have now been displaced by the civil war.

Increasing allegations of human rights violations have also been reported.

Adrian Edwards from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says the outlook isn’t good.

“South Sudan is seeing a continuing worsening of the displacement environment. You now have more than two and quarter million people are displaced, that’s 730,000 people are refugees and about a million and a half people internally displaced. At the same time it’s host to a quarter of a million Sudanese refugees, so there is enormous strains on the civilian population in this country and yes we’re seeing recent uptake in violence too causing additional displacement just over the last weeks. “

The head of the UN’s peacekeeping operations, Hervé Ladsous, paints a similarly bleak picture.

“Well I think it’s a sense of immense sadness. What started four years ago in the joy of seeing a new state which had just been born is now a complete tragedy. Immense suffering, tens of thousands of victims, countless of numbers of refugees and dispaced persons, a looming massive scale humanitarian crisis, not to mention countless women raped, huge numbers of children enrolled in armed units. This has to stop. It’s been going on for too long.”

Mr Ladsous says political will is needed to bring the conflict to an end.

A series of peace talks between both sides in Ethiopia have failed to find any effective solutions.

Australia is home to a large South Sudanese community.

Nyok Gor is the co-founder of South Sudan Australia Peace Intiative, an organisation that promotes reconciliation.

He says there’s been a mixed reaction to the anniversary in the community.

“Both sides of the conflict are still fighting each other and this is why it has been marked with so much mixed feelings on both sides, with nothing to celebrate and others they think we have a country, although there is instability, we can still celebrate it.”

Mr Gor says fewer events have been planned by the community this year compared to two years ago, reflecting divisions within the community here.

“This is a result of mixed feelings. A community that is split and people are struggling with the ongoing conflict, their loved ones are still suffering.”



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