South Sudan: World's newest nation celebrates
Independence Day in southern Sudan caps a celebratory crown on a long liberation struggle that cost more than 2 million lives.
AN anxious world welcomes the Republic of South Sudan into the community of nations. Headlines of violent unrest should not be allowed to drain joy out of a hard-earned victory.
Independence is the crown that nation can proudly wear after a long and violent liberation struggle that cost more than 2 million lives.
In a historic January referendum, South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly for independence. The young country faces enormous challenges. It will be one of the poorest in the world, with about half of residents illiterate and surviving on less than a dollar a day. Water sources are scarce.
Divisions between a largely Arab north and African south will continue. But there are opportunities for both sides to work together. South Sudan's large oil reserves depend on pipelines located in the north. Arab herders need access to grazing land in the south.
South Sudan's break from poverty lies in how it manages its large oil reserves. History paints a scathing picture of natural resources in Africa misused by a gluttonous few with many living on the continent in need.
Attention should remain on this region. Effectiveness of South Sudan's governing coalition remains to be seen. The international community has rightfully come down hard on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for a history of genocidal violence and corruption. Following through on war-crimes charges offers both consequences and deterrence to future abuses of power.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notes that nationhood comes to South Sudan at a steep cost. The struggle is a worthy one because Southern Sudanese were in a much more life-threatening position as part of a warring country.
This is where the international community can step in.
Development will take years, even decades. South Sudan needs immediate help to feed and shelter hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Investment in its infrastructure, from roads to water, and in its educational system and business opportunities help build a viable future. Development organizations are on the ground in South Sudan but the need is tremendous.
World Concern, a humanitarian nonprofit, offers ways to help South Sudan at:WorldConcern.org/feedSudan
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