9 July 2011: South Sudan becomes an independent state

On 9 July 2011 South Sudan achieved independence as a nation state after a six-year peace process.

South Sudan independence © ENOUGH project

The split from the northern part of Sudan came after a long period of marginalisation and persecution of the South Sudanese population by the Sudanese Government in Khartoum. Across the world, the new nation’s passage into statehood was welcomed with both hope and caution as the region continues to be destabilised by ongoing conflict.

Support for independence among the South Sudanese was exceptionally high, due to the devastating civil wars between the north and south of Sudan in the second half of the twentieth century. An estimated two million people died during the Second Sudanese Civil War and southern regions were devastated by indiscriminate aerial bombing and violent raids upon civilian populations.

The civil war was ended by a peace agreement in 2005 which created the road for South Sudanese independence in 2011. It was under the cover of negotiations for this peace agreement between the north and the south that Sudanese authorities in Khartoum turned their attention to Darfur in 2003. As global diplomacy focused on securing peace between the south and north, the Sudanese government carried out a genocide against the Black African population of Darfur, a western region which remains part of Sudan today.

Since the independence of South Sudan, a new crisis has emerged in the South Kordofan region which borders South Sudan and Sudan. The area has faced heavy military attack from Sudanese Government forces and regular reports from the region suggest that civilians are being deliberately targeted.

Despite the signing of a resolution aimed at resolving the conflict in August 2015, violence continues to affect civilians in all ten states, compounded by other humanitarian threats such as economic decline, disease and climactic shocks.

The United Nations and Human Rights Watch have expressed concerns about the targeting of civilians along ethnic lines by both the government and opposition forces. In February 2017 the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs put the number of people displaced as a response to the conflict at nearly 1.9 million.

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Genocide in Darfur

Genocide in Darfur

Darfur is a region in the west of Sudan, bordering Chad, in north-east Africa. Before the conflict Darfur had an ethnically mixed population of around six million black Africans and Arabs.

Abdul Aziz Mustafa

Abdul Aziz Mustafa

Abdul Aziz Mustafa is a member of the Zaghawa people, and grew up in Darfur. At the age of 13 his family life was destroyed by persecution by the Sudanese Government. Abdul Aziz escaped Sudan by being smuggled on a lorry in an arduous 22 day journey.

Mukesh Kapila

Mukesh Kapila

Mukesh Kapila was head of the UN in Sudan and witnessed the start of the genocide in Darfur. In April 2004 he alerted the international media.