A former market in Unity State South Sudan. Credit: Robert Oxley/ DFID

History of the conflict in South Sudan

South Sudan may be the world’s youngest country, but the region has a long history of conflict – and of peace.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, after over 20 years of civil war. The optimism that greeted the country’s birth was shattered in 2013 when political disagreement within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) plunged the country into conflict. The internal power struggle triggered political, inter-ethnic and inter-communal violence. 

The violence is widespread, reaching almost every state in the country. The maginalisation of different groups, ethnic rivalries, and poor governance are all factors which continue to drive conflict, and misinformation about ethnically motivated attacks and counter-attacks reinforce distrust.

Numerous attempts have been made to broker peace. In June 2018, mounting international pressure on the South Sudanese government resulted in a ceasefire and the signing of a power-sharing agreement between opposing political groups. A lack of political will to progress the implementation of the agreement has led to delays, but the step towards peace has infused new life and hope among South Sudanese communities.

Our work in South Sudan

The conflict in South Sudan has displaced more than 3.9 million people, and Uganda alone is hosting more than one million South Sudanese refugees – the majority of them women and children.  

So far, displaced women have been excluded from efforts to build peace - both in South Sudan, and within the refugee camps where ethnic polarisation and stereotyping continue to cause conflicts. 

However, their experiences mean they can and should play an important role in peacebuilding. Alongside a network of women’s grassroots organisations, we’re training internally displaced and refugee women in how to analyse and resolve conflict, and to build relationships and networks to influence policy at a local, state and national level. 

Image: A former market in Unity State South Sudan. Credit: Robert Oxley/ DFID