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After a civil war that lasted for over 20 years and saw over 2 million people killed 5 months ago the people of southern Sudan took part in peaceful referendum on whether to separate from the north of Sudan and become their own country.  The outcome of this vote was an overwhelming majority decision (over 98%) to separate from the North. The decision was made that on July 9 South Sudan will separate from the north and become the newest country on the planet.

With only a couple days to go till separation the atmosphere in the South Sudan capital Juba is joyous. Plans are already being developed to encourage investment and development but this new nation faces numerous challenges.  It will begin life as one of the least developed countries on earth with less than 100km of paved roads, one in three children severely malnourished, maternal mortality rates the highest in the world, more than half of primary school age children not in school, and a girl being more likely to die in child birth than finish primary schooling.

Northern military leaders and southern rebel groups have also increased their activities since the referendum.  According to UN reports in recent weeks violence along the disputed border regions and across southern Sudan, has forced 180,000 people to flee their homes and seen over 1000 civilians killed.

The southern Sudanese people have great plans for their development but conflict undermines this, it deters investment by indigenous or external businesses and restricts the activities of international development NGOs and other bodies.  As such there is a need to make sure this conflict doesn’t escalate.  With the current UN South Sudanese Peacekeeping Mission ending on July 9 there its renewal programme needs to be strengthened.  Right now, the UN Security Council is debating the size and scope of the next UN mission in South Sudan, and they are going to make their decision in the next 24 hours.

We at ONE, along with other NGOs such as Oxfam are supporting the Ch16.org campaign and asking our members to tweet their UN Security Council Ambassadors to fully fund the South Sudanese peacekeeping mission.  You can do this through the links below:

UK, @UKUN_NewYork

Germany, @GermanyUN

France, @franceonu

Now is NOT the time to cut the peacekeeping budget – South Sudan, is about to be the world’s newest independent country. But like most places starting out it needs support.

For more information visit www.ch16.org

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