“I’ve got 99 problems but Bashir ain’t one” is emblazoned on t-shirts for sale in the capital of the brand-new country of South Sudan, which officially gained its independence from the North on Saturday. Even before Sudan gained independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1956, civil war had broken out between the North and South, where rebels rose up to protest the region’s marginalization. Decades and 2 million deaths later, the South is now independent. The weekend was jubilant — from midnight on Friday when crowds filled the streets waving South Sudan flags, through the official declaration ceremony attended by dozens of heads of state and high-level delegations, to the Monday holiday.
The mood was festive in South Sudan's capital as southerners – many who traveled long distances to take part in the long-awaited historic day – declared their independence this weekend. After decades of civil war, the secession stirred up raw emotions and an outpouring of patriotism. The Enough Project's Tim Freccia captured the sights and sounds of the celebration in Juba
After a 56-year struggle, South Sudan has a country of its own. Thousands upon thousands of people gathered starting early this morning at the memorial for Dr. John Garang, the late rebel leader, where workers have been building and cleaning day and night to ready the dusty open space for the huge celebration. Flag-festooned Range Rovers and Mercedes delivered dozens of heads of states, including Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, to the festivities. After hours of sitting in the blistering sun, the crowd seemed newly energized – erupting in cheers and chants of “Republic of South Sudan Oyee!” – when President Salva Kiir took to the podium for his first address as the leader of the world’s 193rd country.
As final preparations are underway for South Sudan’s Independence Day on July 9, media outlets from around the world are preparing to cover this historical event. Due to the complex history and continuing conflict in the area, the Enough Project has created a media backgrounder on South Sudan. We intend it to be used as a tool for journalists and bloggers who do not have extensive knowledge of the region and need to quickly get up to speed.
JUBA, South Sudan – South Sudan’s capital is getting a fresh coat of paint. With just days to go until the world’s newest nation is born, citizens here are doing a bit of nesting. Women were sweeping the street. Men have been painting walls and repairing potholes. All eyes will be on South Sudan this Saturday, July 9, and everyone wants to make sure that the country puts its best foot forward.
Why would the regime in Khartoum decide to escalate right before the South’s independence? There are tactical and strategic reasons. Tactically, the regime is bullying for a better negotiating position on where borders will be drawn and how oil revenues will be shared, with billions of dollars at stake. Regime officials are probing, attempting to ascertain whether deploying a total strategy aimed at setting the South, border areas, and Darfur on fire will draw any reaction beyond rhetorical concern from the international community. Strategically, the regime is doing what it does best: ruling by arson.
As South Sudan’s Independence Day on July 9th approaches, the international community is focusing on the birth of its newest nation. Media outlets from around the world are covering this historical event. As a tool for journalists who do not have extensive background knowledge on the subject, the Enough Project has created this brief contextual overview on South Sudan and its related issues.
On July 9th, South Sudan will declare its independence, becoming Africa's newest nation. The challenges it faces are many. 50 years of war and conflict have seriously undermined the capacity of institutions at all levels to provide justice. Scores of cases of human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence have remained uninvestigated, unprosecuted or unpunished. Conflict-related sexual violence is one of history's greatest silences. In South Sudan as elsewhere, it brings stigmatization and rejection, diseases and reproductive health issues, psychological trauma and unwanted pregnancies, and damages the entire social fabric. It has held communities hostage by preventing women from participating in public and economic life, and undertaking many chores common to rural life, from gathering water and wood, to working in the fields to sustain their families. It has kept girls away from school, and reinforced gender discrimination.
Following the historic referendum in Southern Sudan, Google, The World Bank, UNOSAT, RCMRD and Satellite Sentinel are co-hosting an event in Nairobi, Kenya on June 30, 2011 to demonstrate the power of mapping and support the building of the world’s soon-to-be-newest independent nation on July 9, 2011. Without basic geospatial information, it is difficult for the government, civil society, development partners, and all stakeholders to evaluate the current needs, target their planning efforts, and mobilize proper resources. At times like these, it is critical to have good maps of roads, settlements, buildings and other services, with both local and official names.
Establishing a country requires more than just drawing lines on a map (obviously). As the international community prepares to welcome what will be the newest nation in the world, the citizens of South Sudan are formalizing their own distinct national identity, built upon a pride rooted in the long journey to independence. The soon-to-be Republic of South Sudan has released its national anthem - fittingly written by young people, who will be so critical to the country’s future.
In a recent post for Think Progress, guest blogger Lauren Jenkins raises some salient concerns about the provision of air defense capabilities to the Government of Southern Sudan. Given that Enough endorsed this approach in a press release that same day, it’s worth taking a moment to address some of these concerns. Providing air defense capabilities to the South Sudan government is neither an ideal response to the rising violence in Sudan, nor a step that should be undertaken rashly. But the chilling reports coming out of the Nuba Mountains suggest the wider potential for mass violence in the region and demand a consideration of all the options available to protect civilians from further harm.
With General Radko Mladić now in the dock in The Hague to face charges stemming from the atrocities committed by troops under his command during the Bosnian War, the contrast with events in Southern Sudan could not be more appalling. Sudan’s government, led by President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, has taken a page from its Darfur playbook by waging war once again on civilians and their property, this time attacking the disputed border region of Abyei on the eve of South Sudan’s legal secession next month.
JUBA, South Sudan -- As I walked into Bentiu’s state hospital last week, I expected it to be overcrowded with wounded civilians who had fled the most recent onslaught between the SPLA and Peter Gadet’s forces in Mankien. But I could not find one such person. Instead it was bustling with soldiers getting their battle-scars dressed. “No person without an SPLA uniform is allowed to escape Mayom,” said one man, referring to a western county in Sudan’s Unity state where militia fighting has been rampant. “There are no civilians in Mayom, only rebels.”
Exclusive: Photos Show Deliberate Destruction of Banton Bridge, Abyei Town's Key Link with South Sudan
New photos provide evidence of the deliberate destruction by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of Banton Bridge, Abyei town's primarily link with Southern Sudan. Abyei is currently being occupied by the SAF and northern-aligned armed militias.
Sunday, as the Khartoum regime was solidifying its military occupation of Abyei and beginning to loot and burn the town, I heard from one of the foremost experts on Sudan in the world, Dr. Douglas Johnson. We agreed that Bashir's government felt certain that it would face no international consequences for its attack on Abyei, which threatens to plunge the North and South back to full-scale war. In the absence of any cost or accountability, to have believed that Khartoum would NOT strike would have been foolhardy.
Less than two months away from South Sudan’s independence, women in the soon-to-be state have united together to ensure their rights and gendered concerns are incorporated into the new constitution. Over the weekend the South Sudan Women’s Coalition—made up of a number of women’s professional and civil society groups—held a two-day workshop in Juba to discuss the draft transitional constitution and the constitutional review process.
With less than 70 days left until southerners hoist a new national flag, the optimism in South Sudan of heralding a new beginning has been beset with the perennial problem of armed non-state actors. In Unity state, dealing with the cyclical violence since the April elections last year has become particularly foreboding for the southern government.
Google Maps – the great site that many people use to find directions to the nearest sushi restaurant, or navigate the shortest route to grandma’s house –is becoming more global by the day. One largely under-mapped region, South Sudan, got a big boost thanks to Google’s map-a-thon on Thursday. The event, held jointly at the World Bank in Washington and at Google in Nairobi, brought together map makers with the technological know-how and Sudanese diaspora with knowledge of the local terrain. The end result was a refined, more detailed map that is approaching the most accurate map ever created of the region.
Earlier this week, a draft of South Sudan’s transitional constitution was made public and submitted to South Sudan President Salva Kiir for his review. Once finalized, the document will serve as the guiding legal document for the new republic during its critical transitional phase. The contents of the draft, amended by an SPLM-dominated committee, have left some opposition members angry; one leader called the document a “dictatorial” move by the SPLM to maintain its monopoly on power.