South Sudan became the world's newest country on Saturday (local time) as it declared its independence.In anticipation of an uneasy transition to statehood, the United Nations authorized sent 7,000 troops and 900 police on Friday to help establish peace for the war-ravaged new nation. The U.N. resolution was drafted by the United States and approved by the U.N. Security Council by a 15-0 vote.
Southern Sudan has been in a civil war with its northern counterpart, its second since Sudan became a nation, since the mid-1980s. The split has partly been along religious lines. North Sudan is mostly Muslim while those in the South are mostly Christian and Animist. South Sudan sought independence, in part, over its objections to being governed by Sharia law.
Christian groups and celebrities, such as Bono and George Clooney, have been influential in bringing international attention to Sudan's civil war, especially over the last decade. Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief organization, has been one of the organizations heavily involved in helping to relieve suffering caused by the war. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, made note of the unusual coalitions involved in helping southern Sudan in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine.
“I'm very grateful for George Clooney and what many of the Hollywood types have done. It's been extremely valuable in keeping Sudan in the center of attention,” said Graham. Graham also made clear that the work of relief agencies is far from over, even with South Sudan's independence.
When asked if South Sudan was ready to govern on its own, Graham replied, “No, it's going to have to have a lot of help. The United States, no question, has to get into that situation knee deep because if we just pull back, I don't see how they make it. Europe has to be involved. The United Nations has to be involved. The border has to be protected. China has to get involved. They have the oil leases. They are going to have to invest in the south. It's going to take a few years for this to function. Look how far they've come in such a short time, though.”