South Sudan, which recently celebrated its fifth year of independence, is said to once again be on the brink of Civil War. CBS News reports that almost 280 people have been killed, “including 33 civilians, in fighting that broke out on Thursday night with gunfire between opposing army forces that raised fears of a return to civil war.”
Among those pulling out of South Sudan after turbulent fighting are the U.S. Embassy, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Medical Corps.
The fighting has made young South Sudanese girls and women more vulnerable to sexual violence and abuse, according to @UNICEFAfrica. More than 400,000 children in the South Sudan were forced from their classrooms due to the conflict.
According to USA Today, “local reports said disagreements between fighters at a road checkpoint led to the hostilities”:
Around 36,000 people have fled their homes because of the recent violence, according to the United Nations. ‘The impoverished country doesn’t have facilities to handle them,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s representative in South Sudan. “The people hit hardest by this fighting are struggling to cope in appalling conditions,” Modoe said. “They are desperate for water, food and in need of medical assistance.”
The British initially colonized the Sudan in the 1890s. In 1953, the country gained its independence after a mass nationalist movement.
Beginning in the 1950s, tension grew between Sudan’s northern area, which was mostly Muslim, and its southern region, which was heavily Christian. The southern tip of the Sudan called for autonomy from the central government, which the capital city, Khartoum, refused to allow, leading to the country’s first civil war, beginning in 1955 and ending in 1972.
Sudan would endure another civil war in 1983 between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which ended in 2005 to a Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
In 2011, the people of Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly (99 percent) to secede from northern Sudan, and it was announced that it was officially an independent country. However, many of the contentions remained between the southern region and the north. Deep ethnic clashes, as a result of a lack of resources and colonialism, still plague the country, as exposed by the recent conflict.