What is going on in South Sudan?
Sudan has had to contend with civil wars between the Islamic North and the predominantly Christian South for almost half a century now. This conflict came to an end in 2005 when the most important parties, the North Sudanese government and the South Sudanese Liberation Army (SPLM/A), concluded a peace agreement. It is estimated that two million people lost their lives in the war. Four million people became homeless.
In 2005, South Sudan received a semi-autonomous status and its own constitution. In 2011, the South Sudanese population was allowed to vote for or against separation from the North by means of a referendum. They voted for separation and on 9 July 2011 the independence of South Sudan became a reality. The country is now a presidential republic.
Sudan has oil reserves. The economy of Sudan depends almost completely on this source of income. The “man in the street” sees hardly any profit from this. 90% of the population live on less than 1 US$ a day. The average life expectancy is 42 years. Many people in Sudan lead a nomadic existence. They primarily live on small-scale farming and cattle breeding and try to make some money on the side with other activities. However, they only manage to do so sparingly.
After the peace agreement was signed in 2005, over two million refugees returned to their village or town. Many others are still in camps or have settled in other places where there is more work and there are more facilities. Correctly steering this remigration process is a major challenge. Disputes between inhabitants and displaced people who have returned to their homeland can easily result in new conflicts, also because there is a strong tribal culture in these regions. It is therefore important to devote a lot of time and attention to the social cohesion of these communities.