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What is happening in South Sudan, five years after independence

Violence has broken out again in South Sudan, in the days of the 5th anniversary of its independence. Hundreds have already died.

The 5th anniversary since independence, obtained with 98.83 per cent of votes in a referendum held on 9 July 2011 after years of war with Sudan, was supposed to be one of celebration. Instead, the African state of South Sudan is having a terrible week. Hundreds of people, both soldiers and civilians, have died in clashes between rival armed groups (Reuters reports 272 victims). Violence broke out between government troops loyal to incumbent president Salva Kiir Mayardit and former rebels who support vice president Riek Machar. Machar was dismissed earlier in 2013 because of suspected of treason but was later reappointed in order to avoid tension and clashes.

Un combattente sudsudanese mentre difende il suo bestiame © Reuters
South Sudanese fighter protecting his cattle © Reuters

Violence broke out in South Sudan in 2013

That decision led to a succession of violence that started in December 2013. Conflicts between rival troops have killed nearly 50,000 people so far, while 2.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes. Shortly after, a severe humanitarian crisis prevented the government from taking any action to aid the country’s development, despite these lands are rich in oilfields. Plus, there are 11 million people currently suffering from hunger.

Kiir and Machar must ensure peace in the country

Kiir and Machar were once enemies but have become de facto allies after ratifying a peace agreement in August 2015, calling for peace. The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on 10 July to ask to stop violence in the African country, expressing “particular shock and outrage” at the attacks.

La speranza di pace del Sud Sudan è condivisa da migliaia di persone © Isam al-Hag/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands of people hope South Sudan reaches peace © Isam al-Hag/AFP/Getty Images

A ceasefire has been ordered

After a phone call on 11 July, Kiir and Machar declared a ceasefire taking effect from 20:00 local time. Armed groups seemed to have respected it during throughout the course of the night and troops have been ordered to cease violence in the capital Juba.

“We are people of one country”

The international community hopes that forgiveness and peace will win over hate and division. “We are a people of one country. Let us not dare to lose this great, God-given opportunity to build a vision of peace through mutual dialogue for the whole of South Sudan,” catholic bishop of Tambura-Yambio, Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala wrote in The Guardian. “Our leadership must work together, with sincerity and courage, to bring the people of South Sudan the sustainable peace and security they so deserve”.

Translated by

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