This Sunday, South Sudan will mark six years as an independent country, the world’s youngest. But the ongoing civil war in the country means that no one will be celebrating; because of fighting the the government has canceled its Independence Day anniversary for the second straight year.
The ICRC in Washington's outgoing Head of Delegation Francois Stamm recently spent two weeks in South Sudan ahead of his upcoming move to take over as Head of Delegation, based in Juba. "Given the current rainy season, the country I've seen is very green. The problem lies with the conflict and security. Many people can't tend their fields and have to move regularly to try and avoid to fall victim to armed violence. The ICRC operation in South Sudan is large and diverse but still remarkably agile. Our work in South Sudan is multi-disciplinary. We provide food, clean water and medical assistance, including physical rehabilitation and war surgery. We visit places of detention and help South Sudanese who have been separated from their family members reconnect. Yet even with an operation at this massive level of scale, we remain highly adaptable. It's quite impressive."
To learn more about the ICRC's work in South Sudan, go here.
In addition, Intercross the Podcast had two episodes focusing on South Sudan in the past few months. Check them both out below.
In this week’s roundup, we take a look at South Sudan, six years after independence, as portrayed by the media and other online outlets.**
Eyder Peralta tells a harrowing story about being thrown into a Juban jail. “There is a certain peace that comes with being surrounded by a bunch of men with big guns, he writes. “As much as you want to run or fight or scream, there's not much you can do — except whatever they say.” Despite his experience, his commitment to telling the story of the crisis there continues.
Tonny Onyulo reports that in Longute, a South Sudanese village near the Ugandan border, vultures constantly hover in the sky and dogs prowl the streets. A repugnant, choking smell fills the air. Human remains lie unburied. Much of the village is a killing field that underscores the brutality of a 4-year-old civil war tearing apart the world’s newest nation.
Jason Burke writes that doctors, aid workers and officials in South Sudan are warning of a “devastating” outbreak of cholera that could kill thousands of people in a country where millions are already threatened by famine. More than 2,500 cases of the disease have been registered since April, a sharp increase over previous months. The total over the last year has now risen to 8,000, with about 250 confirmed deaths. Experts say this is likely to be only a fraction of overall toll.
The Unwinnable War (VICE)
The current war, Simona Foltyn writes, like the one that preceded it, appears unwinnable. The country’s vast, thickly forested rural areas, with unpaved roads that make movement of heavy military equipment difficult to impossible, allow entrenched insurgencies to dig in their heels. Lokujo knows this all too well. He was based in Kajo Keji during the protracted independence struggle, when it was first a rebel stronghold. He believes that this time, too, a negotiated political settlement overseen by the international community will be needed to end the current fighting.
Famine Alert in South Sudan Lifted, but Catastrophe Continues (Voice of America)
Lisa Schlein reports that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns that the humanitarian situation in South Sudan remains catastrophic, even though the country is no longer classified as being in a state of famine. The government and the United Nations declared on June 21 an end to the famine that had struck parts of Unity State. However, the head of the Red Cross office in South Sudan, Michael Charles, says the situation remains precarious.
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**The usual Intercross disclaimer: Just because something is featured here, doesn't mean we endorse or agree with it, and the views expressed on the platforms we're highlighting don't necessarily represent those of the ICRC. **