South Sudan's fragile peace: After five years of independence, urgent reform is needed

Five years after the birth of South Sudan, Oxfam warned today that without commitment from all signatories to the country's 2015 peace agreement, the country will falter. According to Oxfam, the transitional government and the international community need to focus on ensuring the provisions of the peace agreement are upheld, particularly commitments to economic reform and ensuring that ordinary citizens can both engage in the political process and have their concerns taken into account. 

Zlatko Gegic, Oxfam Country Director in South Sudan said: “South Sudan’s fragile peace must be protected. This country needs investment: in its people, its economy and its future. The transitional government and international community must learn from the past and listen to South Sudan’s citizens at every step in this transitional period. 

“But a peaceful South Sudan cannot be built without solid foundations. South Sudan’s economy is in crisis and without economic reform, its people will continue to suffer and the fragile peace process will be jeopardized. This transitional period offers the government of South Sudan an opportunity to change this direction - and the international community must support this critical process.”

Since the start of South Sudan’s conflict in December 2013, tens of thousands of people have died and more than 2.5 million people – one in five South Sudanese – have been forced from their homes. Planting and harvesting have been disrupted, forcing people to increasingly rely on aid and diminishing markets, rather than growing their own food. 

Oxfam has a dedicated team working across South Sudan to rebuild livelihoods, provide humanitarian assistance and promote active citizenship. In the lead up to their country’s fifth birthday, South Sudanese across the country told Oxfam what peace means to them: Joyce Sunday from Akobo said, “When we learn to listen to each other, and how to share our space, we will grow. That is what peace means to me, growth from the troubles of the past to the promise for the future.”  Justin from Nyal said: “I can’t hope but I know what I want – to go home. I want everyone to be able to go back home, and to farm, harvest and live. I do not want to hear another gunshot.” 

Notes to editors

Photographs and supporting material are available.

After a bitter liberation struggle with Sudan lasting more than four decades, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 led to the birth of what is now the Republic of South Sudan on July 9, 2011. On 15 December 2013, a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and then former Vice President Riek Machar quickly escalated and pushed the country into a civil war with ethnic dimensions. The conflict has left as many as 4.8 million South Sudanese facing severe food insecurity, and subjected thousands to violence. 

Despite the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan in late August 2015, the situation in the country remains fragile. Violence still continues in many locations, with ceasefire violations recorded by IGAD’s Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) in long-standing conflict zones, areas that have recently fallen into conflict, and areas which had not seen fighting before the agreement was signed. 

The IMF projects that the Transitional Government of National Unity’s budget deficit in 2016/2017 could top $1.1 billion. An almost 90 percent drop in the value of the South Sudanese Pound means the majority of working South Sudanese are now poorer than they were nearly a decade ago. Prices of staple foods, both locally produced and imported, continue to rise with June’s inflation rate approaching 300 percent.

Oxfam's team focuses on providing clean water, public health and livelihoods support, and we work with partners on peace building and governance issues. Since the start of the crisis in December 2013, we have supported nearly 860,000 people with humanitarian assistance, and over 350,000 with long term development and support.

Contact information

Sally Cooper | South Sudan | scooper@oxfam.org.uk | +211 (0) 928 926 564

In the UK | attila.kulcsar@oxfaminternational.org | +44 7471 142 974

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