As South Sudan nears completing 10 years of gaining independence from Khartoum, there are still many challenges facing the newest country in the world.
The 2018 peace agreement that ended a five-year civil war faced delays in implementation, with a national unity government formed only last year, and millions of people still needing humanitarian aid ahead of the independence anniversary in July.
One of the main problems was the formation of a unified security force, which was hampered by the lack of funding and political will, as more than 25,000 trainees have yet to graduate from centers spread across South Sudan, and many of them struggle without regular meals, medical care, or even a school curriculum. Which prompted many of them to leave the training centers.
Life in these centers was particularly difficult for women, who had hoped that serving in the security forces would be a stable way to help support their families.
These girls’ hopes reflect the aspirations of many across South Sudan who have seen lives and livelihoods cut short by the conflict.
One of the trainees, Habivania Ogun James, said she has been waiting to graduate for nearly a year. During that time she became pregnant and found herself begging for larger quantities of food.
Habivania claimed that food is being distributed on the basis of ethnicity, a practice that could exacerbate tensions in a country where sectarian violence remains a deadly threat.
And she added, “I don’t think graduation will be soon.”
Another trainee, Tappan Albert, claimed that they were given expired food, asking, “Do they mean to kill us?”
He also asserted that the funding for the centers is so very little that when a trainee dies, the other trainees are required to pay the burial costs.
“I’ve been in training for 11 months, so where do I get the money from?” Said Albert. AL-Hurra