South Sudan is a country rich in natural resources; it holds vast un-fragmented lands and eco-systems, intact woodlands and forests and unique assemblages of wildlife. Oil is it’s most valuable export though and production is increasing, whilst Agriculture is it’s most important sector for the economy, employing 80 per cent of the workforce.
On the 9th of July 2011, after 22 years of conflict, South Sudan officially became independent of North Sudan.
Tension between North and South Sudan had always existed through ethno religious differences, the north being mainly Muslim and the South mainly Christian amongst other religious and non-religious groups. The British as controllers from 1924 basically had a policy of running Sudan as two separate territories: the Muslim north and Christian South. When the British left Sudan to run itself independently as a united country in 1954, the power already lay stronger in the North more closely tied as it was to Egypt. The South Sudanese territories were less well organised and their language of administration was English, as opposed to Arabic in the North, so of the 800 government positions filled, only 4 were given to southerners. South Sudan began to struggle against a more Arab favoured implementation of government.
In 1983- 2005, exacerbated by a proposed Islamicisation across Sudan, the second civil war broke out . It was this war that devastated and displaced Gabriel’s village.
‘Sudan’s independent History has been dominated by chronic, exceptionally cruel warfare ‘
Claims over land and oil, between North and South, and between tribal regions, added further cause for tension. With access to modern arms, such as Russian helicopters and cargo planes, and a proliferation of personal weapons, much damage was reaped.
It displaced an estimated 4 million people, and killed an estimate 2 million. It damaged Sudan’s economy, leading to food shortages then malnutrition and starvation. The lack of investment, particularly in the South meant a generation lost access to basic health services, education and jobs.
This is what Gabriel, with Hope For Ariang hopes to amend.
Neighbouring countries Rwanda and Ethiopia, are amongst the World’s fastest growing economies due to the rich resources that South Sudan also holds. Ariang and other South Sudanese communities still lack funding and support to invest in future generations but there is much to hope for in South Sudan’s future.