The Republic of South Sudan is the world’s newest nation, founded in 2011 after years of civil war with the Sudanese government in Khartoum. Thousands have died in civil wars since independence. A tenuous ceasefire holds in Juba, but militia are still fighting in other regions.
The humanitarian situation is dire; more than three million people have been internally displaced or sought refuge in neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda. Millions face food insecurity and need humanitarian assistance.
Australia worked as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2013 and 2014 to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and to manage the instability into the longer term. Australia supported a revised mandate for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), to protect civilians, provide humanitarian assistance, and monitor human rights.
Australia has contributed over $60 million in humanitarian assistance since conflict broke out in December 2013, including $7 million in early 2017. A contingent of Australian Defence Force personnel in South Sudan have served with UNMISS since its inception in 2011.
South Sudan has significant potential oil wealth, with large oil fields in its Upper Nile and Unity states. The country’s fertile soils and abundant water supplies make it one of the richest agricultural areas in Africa, but most people depend on subsistence agriculture.
Australia and South Sudan have strong personal connections, including a large South Sudanese diaspora resident in Australia.