South Sudan to mark its first anniversary of independence
But as the world’s youngest country celebrates its first birthday on Monday, 9 July, it is suffering from acute growing pains.
As many as 4.7 million people – more than half the population – do not have enough to eat or face imminent serious food shortages, according to new UN figures.
The new nation has oil wealth it can’t ship to market, impoverished citizens it can’t seem to feed or house, and a feud with Khartoum it can’t seem to end.
South Sudan’s leaders have always been able to count on foreign aid to keep its population alive.
During the two decade war with the North, the United Nations and a host of nongovernmental aid agencies flew in planeloads of food and medical supplies to Juba. But now, South Sudan’s destiny is in the hands of its people.
As if the situation were not bad enough, South Sudanese president Salva Kiir recently accused 75 government officials of plundering some $4 billion in public funds.
A leaked World Bank report predicts that South Sudan will run out of its fiscal reserves as early as the end of this month.
Though it was strongly supported by the West, in some ways the southern secession was premature. Its economic survival was dependent on its oil revenue, yet this revenue was entirely in the hands of Khartoum, since all of the oil pipelines from South Sudan went through the north on their way to export terminals on the Red Sea.
Without co-operation from Khartoum, the south’s revenue would be jeopardized. And the north-south negotiations were far from settled when South Sudan became independent a year ago.