What Has Happened to the World’s Newest Republic?

After decades of nightmarish violence, the new predominantly Christian nation of South Sudan declared independence with United Nations supervision and help from such celebrities as George Clooney -- and thousands of former refugees known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan." But now, violence rages once more.

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Eventually, he slipped away, made it to a refugee camp, then was

befriended by an American woman who helped him come to the United States where he graduated from high school, then college and now is an assistant pastor at a Nashville church.

All the while, he and others like him tell of dreaming of one day returning to their home country to rebuild what decades of senseless, ongoing war had destroyed. And out of the area, stories emerged of starvation and suffering in vast refugee camps that seemingly were ignored by their government.

For decades the conflict raged on the southern tip of one of the world’s oldest countries, Sudan. The south’s population was predominantly dark-skinned tribal peoples who were Christian and traditional animists – distinctly different than Sudan’s majority Muslim light-skinned Arabs.

The Muslim northerners were alternately accused of ignoring the devastation of the south – or of causing the extreme persecution there by supporting and funding the roving rebels, such as the drug-fueled Ganjaweed militia, who regularly raided Christian villages, taking the young into slavery while murdering the men and older women.

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Having survived the nightmare, some of the survivors have returned to South Sudan. Others work abroad, sending money to relatives and working to bring peace to their homeland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmmanuel Jal, a “Lost Boy” who settled in Britain (Photo by Steve Shankbone)

In January 2011, United Nations-sponsored elections were held to determine whether South Sudan should declare independence from Sudan and 98.83 percent of the population voted in favor of breaking away from the Arab north. That led to a UN-brokered partition of the nation on July 9, 2011, although the oil-wealthy region of Abyei remains disputed – claimed by both Sudan and the new nation of South Sudan.

However, the heartbreak continues. The brand-new republic, scarred by decades of brutal conflict, has disintegrated into new chaos fed by age-old tribal vendettas.

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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