Val Morgan: International help is vital for desperate South Sudan
THIS time 12 months ago, South Sudan was revelling in its new-found freedom as it gained independence from Sudan. However, despite much progress, the world’s newest nation is struggling to overcome the legacy of war and an ongoing conflict with its northern neighbours.
As I travelled through the country with the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) last year it was easy to see that rebuilding this nation was always going to take years, not months. Decades of conflict had left two million people dead and virtually wiped out all basic infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.
Some progress is being made – roads are being built, telecommunications networks are expanding, passports are being issued and government institutions are being formed – but huge challenges remain.
Ongoing border disputes with Sudan involving clashes and aerial bombardment prevent rapid investment and development. Inter-ethnic conflict is creating further insecurity. A dispute over export fees for the use of oil pipelines in the north has led to South Sudan halting production. With 98 per cent of the nation’s revenue coming from oil, the World Bank has warned that its economy may be on the verge of collapse. It is predicted that the percentage of the population living in poverty will jump to 83 per cent in 2013.
It is within this environment that SCIAF and our partners in the global Catholic network Caritas Intenationalis are working. Our focus is on providing many of the 375,000 people who have returned to South Sudan with temporary shelters, hygiene kits and small-scale projects including water and sanitation.
One year on from independence, South Sudan remains a country with huge potential. However, if it is to break away from its blood-soaked past and move towards a sustainable future, the international community must do all it can to help South Sudan and its northern neighbour agree and implement a lasting peace. Only then can the long suffering people of the South look forward to a future with real hope.
• Val Morgan is the media and communications officer for SCIAF
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