After more than 50 years of civil war, the Republic of South Sudan declared independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011. Until that point, Sudan had been the largest country in Africa and as of the end of 2010 it was home to up to 5.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) – more than any other country in the world (IDMC, 23 December 2010).
South Sudan’s declaration of independence took place amid escalating violence and conflict along its northern border with Sudan, which in the town of Abyei alone led to the displacement of at least 110,000 civilians. The new country has faced enormous challenges during its first months of statehood, including disagreements with Sudan over the demarcation of their border and the water and grazing rights of nomadic groups who move across it; unresolved disputes over the sharing of oil revenues - oil fields are mostly in the south but the refining and export infrastructure is in the north; large return movements from Sudan; an internal displacement crisis caused by inter-tribal conflict and fighting between government forces and new militia groups; and widespread food insecurity.
The government is working to establish new state institutions and capacity, but South Sudan remains one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.