South Sudan one year on: a photo essay

After decades of fierce conflict and the displacement of millions of people across Sudan, the south was finally able to secede from the north to form South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, one year ago.

A year on there is still much joy in the hearts of the South Sudanese. They have hope. You can see it in their faces, you can see it when you walk along Hai Malakal and Tong Ping roads to the centre of Juba. There are also big changes in some remote regions where people live with less fear, more stability and resources.

But as a fledgling nation with such a devastating history of violence and displacement, there was, and still is, much work to be done in the world’s newest nation. The relatively resource-rich, South Sudan is all but bereft of infrastructure, from roads and transport to water and sanitation, agriculture and education. At the same time scores of displaced individuals and families are now returning to their respective homes, many of whom are in need of medical and other assistance to re-establish themselves.

Conflict and tensions continue to brew with ongoing disputes between South Sudan over lucrative oil reserves and pipelines. Regardless of the challenges, the one year anniversary is again time to celebrate. Caritas has compiled this photoessay to reflect on the year that has been for South Sudan with an emphasis on those who are still trying to find a place they can call home. Photos and stories courtesy of Caritas Internationalis and Laura Sheahen.

South Sudan anniversary Media gallery

Returning home

At a transit camp for people returning to South Sudan from Sudan, Caritas works with the International Organisation for Migration and other groups to help families about to start a new life in the world’s youngest country.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Providing housing materials

Mrs Rebekah Lwal and her children were one of thousands of families displaced by violence near the border between South Sudan and Sudan. She received poles and plastic sheeting to build this thatch house. Caritas also gave Rebekah mosquito nets, blankets and kangas - cloth used for clothing and other purposes.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Health clinic

A young child with his grandmother receives treatment at a medical centre in Agok, where thousands of people fled during violence at the border between South Sudan and Sudan. In Agok, Caritas is distributing mosquito nets to prevent malaria, soap to promote hygiene, and other items to the displaced people.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Rebuilding

With funding from Caritas members worldwide, Caritas Juba has mobilised volunteers to construct shelters, distribute items like mosquito nets, and provide hygiene training to camp residents.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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The future of South Sudan

The Caritas network will remain in South Sudan before during and after the headlines. Our goal is to help the people of South Sudan construct a just future where they can determine their own futures and be spared the tyranny of conflict.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Children in Agok

In 2011 in Abyei, a disputed border area of Sudan and South Sudan, people fled from their homes to escape shooting and aerial bombardments. Their homes were looted and then burned. Schools, churches, clinics and more were all destroyed. Many people ended up here in Agok, a settlement about one hour's drive south of Abyei.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Classroom

In Agok, where thousands of people fled during violence at the border between South Sudan and Sudan, Caritas is training educators so that thousands of students will have qualified teachers. The new country's curriculum is English, not Arabic, as they were required to learn before independence.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Disembarking at a transit camp

Bus passengers disembark at a transit camp for people returning to South Sudan from Sudan. Here, Caritas works to help families who are about to start a new life in the newly-formed country.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Helping farmers

In a remote area of South Sudan where war and other issues once made farming difficult, Caritas trains farmers, provides seeds, creates water systems, and runs other projects to help families grow enough food to feed themselves. Jennifer, a field assistant for Caritas in a remote area of South Sudan, helps train farmers to improve their yields.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Tilling a field

A man tills a fresh field, knowing his family will have food to eat and somewhere to live. Caritas trains farmers, provides seeds, creates water systems, and runs other projects to help families grow enough food to feed themselves.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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Looking to the future

For this young boy, and many just like him, the future for South Sudan is filled with hope but there is much work to be done and the world’s newest nation will need the support of the international community.

Credit: Laura Sheahen/Caritas Internationalis

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