South Sudan, the newest country in the world, has always been a major focus of AID’s work. More recently though, we have begun to operate in Uganda and Kenya too. Please read below for information on these countries which informs and inspires our work.
South Sudan emerged as a new country in 2011 after decades of civil war in which 2 million people were killed and 4 million were displaced. During this time, infrastructure was destroyed, education neglected and governance undermined.
A vast country larger than western Europe, Sudan gained independence from the UK in 1956 but remained fractured internally, with north pitted against south. Marginalised southerners sought greater representation in government whilst northerners looked to benefit from the rich resources of the south without giving locals a voice in the decision making process. These tensions escalated into the First Sudanese Civil War in 1955-1972. After 11 years of ceasefire, a second war – effectively a continuation of the first – broke out in 1983. This saw the emergence of the rebel movement: the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) led by Dr John Garang. In 2005, this war ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was brokered by the US, the UK and Norway. In 2011, after a referendum in which 98.83% voted for independence, South Sudan officially gained its freedom from Sudan. South Sudan (itself larger than France) today has huge potential for development but the challenges remain enormous due to ongoing conflict and epidemic poverty.
Current Humanitarian Situation
The people of South Sudan suffer from extreme poverty and some of the world’s worst health conditions. For example, 1 in 28 women die in childbirth and 1 in 7 children die before their 5th birthday. However, churches of all denominations are strong and have a reach into every community. Furthermore, the church is trusted, having played a vital role in supporting local people throughout decades of conflict. With meagre resources but enormous trust and faith, the church often intervened in the face of extreme violence and oppression. Churches can play a central role in future efforts to stabilise South Sudan.
Current Political Situation
Since becoming independent in 2011, South Sudan has once again fallen into civil war which is the result of corrupt leadership in opposing groups seeking dominance and control. This is highlighted by Transparency International’s most recent ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’ (2017) in which South Sudan ranked 179th (out of 180 countries), indicating widespread, entrenched corruption. Thousands are crossing the border daily to escape violence and insecurity. Though full blown war seems more unlikely as time passes, the country is stagnant and hope is distant. However, we trust the Lord God who is faithful and strong: ‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40:31).
Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962 and since then has endured periods of conflict and civil war. However, it is now relatively peaceful and developing, though corruption is still a concern. It is the world’s second most populous landlocked country and has been governed by President Museveni since 1986.
AID is training South Sudanese students to be health workers at the National Institute of Health Sciences in Kampala and more recently, has started an agriculture programme in the north of Uganda, working both with South Sudanese refugees and Ugandans.