South Sudan Independence Day – a day of celebration and remembrance


South Sudan, the world’s newest nation was born on the 9th July 2011, emerging from the longest civil war in Africa. It was a time of unrivalled popular joy and great expectation as the country looked forward to a time of peace and prosperity. However, the birth was not an easy one with the country soon descending into a terrible civil war in 2013 which resulted in an estimated 400,000 adults and children killed, and millions displaced in camps scattered inside and outside the country.

The legacy of that difficult birth continues to this day. 9 million people, approximately 75% of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. This includes an estimated 700,000 ‘returnees’ who have fled the war in Sudan and who are in great need. The war in Sudan has exacted an enormous economic toll on the country and especially in the daily lives of the majority with the country suffering staggering food inflation.

Recently, the Bishops of South Sudan issued a pastoral letter in which they stated “South Sudan is not truly at peace. While there is no serious fighting between major armed groups, sub-national violence is taking place in many parts of the country.”

While the above picture is bleak, it does not offer a complete representation. South Sudanese are immensely proud of achieving independence. Every year the country produces more and more graduates of secondary and post-secondary education, including qualified primary school teachers and nurses and midwives trained by Solidarity with South Sudan. While still a drop in the ocean of need, this is undoubted progress. On the 3rd of July Pope Francis announced the creation of a new diocese in Bentiu, bringing the number of Catholic dioceses to eight. This is another sign that the Catholic Church continues to develop and set up structures which are at the service of all the people in this country.

The commemoration of independence is an occasion to recall the great joy and expectancy that was present at birth. It is also a time to realize the fragility and challenges that exist in the country and to celebrate the small successes which may lead to transformation in the future.


Date Published:

09 July 2024


Fr Jim Greene, Executive Director


Article Tags:

Latest news, South Sudan, Peace, Independence, Solidarity

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