The World’s youngest nation, South Sudan is turning seven on Monday. The country has however been engulfed in a long running civil conflict. The United Nations has issued grim statistics indicating that out of 3.4 million babies born in the country since its independence in 2011, 2.6 million have been born in war.
This year however, on Monday, Kenya – home to thousands of South Sudanese refugees was quiet there were no festivities. The prospect of a better future following the country’s independence in 2011 seems to have faded following the outbreak of conflict two years later.
Meanwhile, more than 2 million children are out of school and an estimated 19,000 of them continue to serve as fighters, cooks, porters and messengers and to suffer sexual abuse – up from 500 when conflict first broke out in 2013.
Last month, President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar agreed to a permanent ceasefire, and this past weekend an agreement on security drew the country closer to a power sharing deal and raised hopes of an end to the fiver-year conflict that has devastated the World’s youngest country.
The United Nations Children’s agency (UNICEF) has since warned that the conflict has devastated millions of children. At least 300, 000 children UNICEF says are at risk of death due to hunger. Now human rights groups are holding onto hope that the permanent ceasefire will hold.
“It will good for them to agree a deal that ends the suffering because all the human rights violations that have taken place, have taken place have taken place in the context of this violence,” said Seif Magongo , Deputy Director of Amnesty International, East Africa.
Amnesty International wants those who have committed atrocities in the country since the conflict broke out to be held accountable, as a way to lasting peace in the country. They also want the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.
The agreement signed in Uganda sets the stage for the formation of a three year transitional government, with Dr. Machar assuming his prior position as first Vice President.