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.
A South Sudanese child waves her country’s new flat (U.S. government photo)
The fledgling nation seems to be at war with itself. At least seven armed groups in nine of its 10 states are battling each other. Tens of thousands of civilians are now fleeing to refugee camps. Much of the conflict seems to be based on inter-tribal ethnic distrust still festering after decades of unending war.
“The world’s youngest country, a mere two and a half years old, now stands on the precipice of a new civil war which threatens to hurl South Sudan back into the violence from which it just emerged,” reports actor George Clooney, who has made numerous trips to the area. “For the South Sudanese who fought and suffered so dearly for their independence, and for those around the world who supported the
new state, this development is tragic and disappointing, but it is hardly surprising or without vast precedent.”
“Most African countries that emerged from colonial rule or long periods of dictatorship have experienced rocky transitions marked by violence and coups,” notes Clooney. “Sudan itself, from which South Sudan split in 2011, was born into a civil war and has been rocked by three major coups since independence in 1956. Similar stories have plagued the neighboring states of Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad, and Congo. South Sudan’s own fledgling state has been rendered vulnerable by a major rift in the country’s political leadership, where past unresolved grievances were left to fester.