Sunday, July 10, 2011
The Birth of a Nation
It is an understandably joyous occasion for a region that has rebelled against the oppressive government of Sudan, and endured a bloody civil war in which an estimated 2 million people have been killed and 4 million displaced.
There is some cause for optimism for the long-term future of South Sudan as it is rich in oil, and has agricultural land that has led some to predict it will become the breadbasket of East Africa.
But for the time being, the new nation remains mired in dire conditions, after decades of neglect by their former rulers. Illiteracy is around 85%, and 90% of its 8 million citizens live on less than US$1 a day. North Sudan still claims some oil-rich territory along the border, which remains a cause of dispute. Infrastructure is woefully underdeveloped. And the country is home to 200 different ethnic groups who will have to learn to get along in this new political environment.
But long-awaited stability in South Sudan will hopefully mean greater stability in the nations that border it, and an easing of the massive refugee crisis caused by the war.