Sudan is the largest country in Africa. It is located in northeastern Africa and spans an area of 2,505,813 square kilometers, slightly more than one quarter of the size of the United States. The capital city is Khartoum, located in northern Sudan. The Nile River runs through the country from north to south.
Britain and Egypt ruled Sudan from the late 1800s until 1956, when Sudan achieved independence from British-Egyptian rule. Since its independence, Sudan has been governed by a series of parliamentary and military governments. Major civil war broke out between the north and the south in the early 1980s. The two-decade-long civil war in southern Sudan displaced an estimated four million people and killed an estimated two million civilians. The war ravaged the south, destroying entire villages, tearing families apart, and causing a collapse of the economic and social infrastructure in the south. Millions of southern Sudanese were forced to leave their homeland and seek refuge in neighboring countries.
In 2005 a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was reached between the north and the south which ended the civil war. Under the CPA, the south established its own semiautonomous government and voted in 2011 to separate from Sudan to form a new, independent nation. With the return of peace and increased stability, many of the natives of the south have left the refugee camps of Kenya and Ethiopia and have returned to their towns and villages in southern Sudan.
Though the war with northern Sudan is over and the southern part of the country is stabilizing, significant hurdles remain as southern Sudanese continue with the struggle to rebuild their lives and communities. Food shortages lead to episodes of famine and despair. There is limited access to clean water, limited or no access to formal medical care and education, and scarce agricultural and economic opportunity. Southern Sudan Humanitarian began with the mission to help the people of southern Sudan overcome these hurdles.
About the time the civil war in southern Sudan was coming to an end, another war began in the northwestern Darfur region of Sudan (located in northern Sudan). Recent estimates show that upward of 300 thousand civilians have been killed and more than 2.5 million people have been displaced since the beginning of this conflict. The atrocities that are now destroying Darfur resemble what took place in southern Sudan beginning two decades ago. As a result of the war in Darfur, many of the relief agencies that were helping southern Sudan have shifted their efforts to Darfur; however, the needs in southern Sudan remain critical.
In January 2011 the people of South Sudan (roughly the southern third of Sudan) overwhelmingly voted to become an independent nation and on July 9, 2011, they joined the ranks of the independent nations of the world. The nation’s president is Salva Kiir Mayardit and the parliament meets in Juba, the temporary capital of this new nation.