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Today marks 10 years of the world’s youngest nation and one of its most challenged, South Sudan.

As South Sudan marks its 10th anniversary, the world’s youngest nation continues to face immense hunger, violence and now challenges of COVID-19.

Joy (27) is the Mother of 5 children, three of whome were born into conflict. Photo credit Achuoth Deng/CAFOD and Trócaire in Partnership Joy (27) is the Mother of 5 children, three of whome were born into conflict. Photo credit Achuoth Deng/CAFOD and Trócaire in Partnership

South Sudan’s declaration of independence refers to the country’s ‘long and heroic struggle of our people for Justice, Freedom, Equality, Dignity and Political and Economic emancipation’ but for many in South Sudan, the situation is incredibly tough.

South Sudan has been ranked amongst the most fragile and conflict-affected countries in the world. Its declaration of independence ended Africa’s longest-running civil war but a decade on, conflict continues.

Liberation efforts and the socio-economic development of the country have been marred by violence and instability with an estimated 8.3 million people (7 in 10) projected to need humanitarian aid this year alone. The average life expectancy for South Sudanese people is only 57 and the country has been placed at 186 out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index. Women and children are most at risk, with an estimated 1.4 million South Sudanese children under 5, expected to be severely malnourished this year. Over four million South Sudanese remain displaced, internally or living as refugees in neighbouring countries, many fleeing their homes at short notice because of violence, floods or other pressures.

South Sudan devasted by triple shock of conflict, flooding and Covid-19

South Sudan ranks highly in terms of countries most vulnerable to the impact of Covid-19.

And as countries across the globe roll out mass vaccination plans, the world’s newest nation has administered no more than 48,461 doses so far which means only 0.2% of the country’s population has been vaccinated if every person needs two doses.

On the eve of South Sudan’s 10-year anniversary, WHO’s Dr. Mike Ryan urged countries to donate at least some of their Covid-19 vaccines so that the most vulnerable people and frontline health workers across the world can be vaccinated. Speaking at the launch of the People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland, he said: “It is time for countries to make a choice. It is time for countries to step forward and say, we can do both of these things; we can protect our own and we can reach out and protect others.”

The Alliance, a coalition of Irish organisations, health practitioners, trade unions and activists, is asking Ireland take a stand for equality and global health and to ensure that ‘everyone, everywhere’ has access to Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

Communities in South Sudan have been devastated by the triple shock of intensified conflict flooding, and the impacts of Covid-19, exacerbating the already fragile humanitarian situation.

Trócaire and partners renew appeal for South Sudan

Trócaire and its partners are calling for just efforts to end the devastating acts of violence, and for those on all sides of conflict to seek non-violent resolution to issues, not just to enable much needed humanitarian access, but as a building block for a brighter future for South Sudan. And ensure that one of the most fragile countries in the world remains a priority for funding and diplomatic engagement.

Since 2013, 128 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan, the vast majority of whom were South Sudanese nationals. On this anniversary, we pay respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to serve communities in South Sudan.

Trócaire stands in solidarity with communities, our partners, and the Church in South Sudan, in hope of a brighter future.

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