A New Nation is Born

On Saturday, July 9, the Republic of South Sudan will join the community of nations. More than twenty heads of state and hundreds of foreign dignitaries will converge on its capital, Juba, as the new country raises its flag and inaugurates a first president, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

A New Nation is Born
By Ban Ki–moon
 
On Saturday, July 9, the Republic of South Sudan will join the community of nations. More than twenty heads of state and hundreds of foreign dignitaries will converge on its capital, Juba, as the new country raises its flag and inaugurates a first president, Salva Kiir Mayardit.
 
For the more than eight million citizens of South Sudan, it will be a momentous and emotional day. In January, they voted in an historic referendum to separate from the rest of Sudan. That they did so peacefully is a credit to both the North and South Sudanese leadership. Yet nationhood has come at steep cost: two million lives lost and four million people displaced in a brutal 21–year civil war, ending in 2005. And when the assembled presidents and prime ministers board their official planes to return home, the challenges that remain will be daunting indeed.
 
On the day of its birth, South Sudan will rank near the bottom of all human development indices. It has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate. Estimates of illiteracy among the female population exceed 80 percent. More than half of its people must feed, clothe and shelter themselves on less than a dollar a day. Critical issues of poverty, insecurity and lack of infrastructure must all be addressed by a relatively new government with little experience and only embryonic institutions. In this context, the risk of increased violence, harm to civilian populations and further humanitarian suffering is very real.
 
At the same time, South Sudan has remarkable potential. With substantial oil reserves, huge amounts of arable land and the Nile flowing through its centre, South Sudan could grow into a prosperous, self–sustaining nation capable of providing security, services and employment for its population.
Alone, South Sudan cannot meet these challenges nor realize its potential. Doing so will require partnership — a full (and on–going) engagement with the international community and, most especially, South Sudan’s neighbours.

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