This month marks the fifth anniversary of South Sudan, the world’s youngest independent country.
On 9 July 2011, South Sudan gained independence after 20 years of civil war between north and south Sudan, during which time over two million people were killed.
The fledgling country faced huge problems – the legacy of decades of war, limited infrastructure, a lack of services and extreme poverty.
While there were some signs of development and infrastructure being built in its first two years, progress was slow and people were not getting access to health services, education or enough food.
Volunteer health promoters who work with communities to improve health and hygiene in Yirol, South Sudan with support from Trócaire
2013 conflict - 1.5 million flee their homes
A political crisis started to emerge in 2013 leading to a fresh outbreak of violence, which was cataclysmic for the new nation.
From December 2013, conflict led to violence on a level not witnessed before in South Sudan, with a huge loss of life and trauma. 1.5 million people fled their homes and 500,000 escaped to nearby countries.
Since then, the economy has collapsed. The South Sudanese pound has depreciated by 90% since December and inflation is at 300%.
On top of the conflict and economic crisis, South Sudan is also facing its worst food shortage in history, with 4.8 million people facing hunger before harvests are expected next month.
To add to this, rainfall has been poor and hunger is increasing.
A new transitional government was established in 2015 and a precarious peace now rests on the country.
Trócaire's work in South Sudan
Today, support for people in South Sudan is crucial. Trócaire and our UK partner, CAFOD, are working in the Yirol region to reach 4,800 people with food and supplying clean water to communities.
We’re supporting people facing hunger with cash vouchers so they can buy food quickly.
We’re also funding livelihoods projects to help people feed themselves in the long-term, and promoting health and sanitation among communities.
We’re reaching people who remain trapped in conflict zones and those who have fled their homes.
People from South Sudan have experienced or witnessed violence towards themselves and loved ones, and a huge number women have been raped. We are working closely with the Catholic Church at grassroots level to build peace and to help people to recover from the trauma of war.
Hopes rest on peace and development
There is a greater degree of stability in South Sudan than there was during the height of the violence. But there is great pressure and weight on the shoulders of this young nation.
As the country marks five years of independence, its people desperately need the situation to improve under the new transitional government, so that they can finally return to their homes and experience peace and development.