The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many individuals. In South Sudan, the humanitarian crisis grows, as families are lacking food, water, security, and fear of contracting the virus. The civil war in South Sudan has led to the death and displacement of many families on account of political differences.
The civil war in South Sudan has been an apparent crisis for many years. The Sudan People’s Liberation movement/army is a political party (SPLM/A). In 2012-2013, tension began growing among those involved in the SPLM/A. This tension led to a split in the governing SPLM/A party between forces loyal to President of South Sudan Salva Kiir, and those loyal to Vice President Reik Machar. This split drove a large portion of the country to be divided, including the military troops.
Violence in South Sudan broke out in July of 2013 when President Kiir fired Machar and accused Machar of staging a coup against him. These actions created a ripple effect through South Sudan. The firing of Machar drove anti-government protests, resulting in violent responses by the government using security forces and the military. The conflict between those in support of Kiir and those loyal to Machar, lead to an ethnic conflict between the Nuer ethnic group supporting Machar and the Dinka ethnic group supporting Kiir.
The tension and violence in South Sudan have driven many families into harm’s way. In the year 2020 alone approximately 323,000 people have been displaced. According to World Vision, the total number of displaced people due to conflict and hunger is more than 4 million. Additionally, World Vision has stated that Uganda hosts almost 800,000 refugees from South Sudan, with 60% of those being children. According to World Vision, nearly 400,000 people have been killed as a result of the war, with a portion of those from drought and famine.
There have been various organizations creating an effort to ensure security among South Sudanese families. The UN, African Union, and other international organizations have strongly condemned the violence in South Sudan. In 2020, the UN refugee agency has received $1 million from Japan to protect, and assist displaced people across South Sudan. World Vision has greatly contributed to ensuring safety among South Sudanese people. In 2018, World Vision accepted 250 children and child soldiers into a program to help with the transition into civilian life. Similarly, World Vision began a program to help child soldiers return to their families safely and continue their education. Various other organizations have contributed to assist South Sudanese civilians to find security.
Recent events have led to hope for peace among those in South Sudan. In June of 2018, the Khartoum Declaration was signed between Kiir and Machar, forcing a ceasefire between the two. A month later in July of 2018, the Entebbe proposal was signed. This proposal stated that Kiir and Machar would share power throughout the country. Later on, in February of 2020 Machar was reinstated as acting vice president of South Sudan, forming a joint government.
The power-sharing proposal between Kiir and Machar drives hope for peace and unity for the people of South Sudan. While this is a step in the right direction for peace in South Sudan, the military forces continue to be divided between one another. The unification of these forces is vital for South Sudan to regain peace and act as a whole.