Today, July 9th, is a day of celebration and promise as Southern Sudan declares its independence and becomes a nation with the guidance of the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UN organizations, including the United Nations Mission in Sudan.
The UN’s Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon looks at Southern Sudan’s newfound independence as the start of a challenge as they find their place and develop. In support of this burgeoning independence, yesterday the UN announced its new mission, the UNMISS UN Mission in Southern Sudan that will specifically focus on the development of the new country. The Security Council voted unanimously to set up a new United Nations mission to help Africa’s newest nation consolidate peace and lay the foundation for longer-term state-building, conflict prevention and economic development.
While the history of Sudan is quite complicated, a brief overview is as follows: the history of Southern Sudan goes back all the way to the French and English influence on the continent of Africa in the 1800s leading to the English control of both the Northern and Southern parts of Sudan until 1956. The actions of Sudan’s People Liberation Movement in the 1980’s started the rebellion in response to perceived discrimination of Southern Sudan, along with division of religious beliefs in the region l, that led to the wars between the North and South. A peace agreement (CPA) was formed in 2002 with the assistance of the US that brought about the end of the civil war and a new government, but also created challenges in developing the area. Once the civil war ended in 2002, it was decided that a declaration would be formed between the government and Sudan’s People Liberation Movement by the end of 2004, with the support of the UNSC and CPA. These actions led to the support of the elections this past year that would allow Southern Sudan to gain its independence from the North.
Here, in the Boston area there are some interesting initiatives in support of the Southern Sudanese people. A Sudanese Education Fund has been started to support the educational development of the people that immigrate to the United States from Southern Sudan. Many Southern Sudanese people made efforts to be a part of the decision towards independence as they voted in the Boston area for Southern Sudan’s independence during the referendum in January of this year. There were a variety of different organizations that supported the Southern Sudanese voters, but specifically in this area was the South Sudanese Community Center in Arlington that worked to support the rights and independence of Southern Sudan.
You can get involved, too! Encourage the US Senate to support the development of Southern Sudan. You can connect with all of the celebrations in real time online here. And stay tuned as this country continues to develop and find it’s own identity.