The eruption of violence between the armies of Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in Juba last week caused the death of over 300 people and added another 36,000 to the 1.6 million people displaced in South Sudan.
Providing assistance for the millions impacted by this conflict, was further complicated by the evacuation of international staff and local civilians from Juba – the very people who are needed to help aid reach those affected by this violence.
In the face of this great need, we are particularly proud of our locally-based approach and the dedicated staff on the ground who keep education going in South Sudan despite instability. Even while our work in Juba is disrupted, schools and classes continue with the support of Africa Educational Trust in Western Equatoria, Lakes and Jonglei states.
It was hoped the peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in August 2015 would be the start of peace and recovery for South Sudan, the world’s newest country.
A key aspect of this agreement was Machar’s return to Juba to help lead the transitional government. Machar’s return was greatly delayed, due to his concerns about security within the Juba region. In April 26, Machar returned, with an agreed upon military force and was sworn in as Vice-President.
Last week, days before the country’s independence day, a skirmish between Kirr and Machar’s troops at a check point, erupted into fighting between the military factions that spread across Juba killing an estimated 300 people and causing tens of thousands to flee the capital.
A cease-fire was agreed by both leaders as of last Tuesday, July 12th. However, international staff and many local civilians have left the city and reports of looting, sporadic violence against civilians and general unrest continue.
Many leaders around the world are waking up to the knowledge that education cannot wait for conflict to end and for peace to come. This is something that Africa Educational Trust has always known to be true, and our locally-driven approach means that we can continue to support building education systems and providing learning to those who missed out on school.
Our staff and their families based in Juba have left the city and are safe. Juba, is however, just one of four regional centres of operation in South Sudan and education continues in these regions despite this conflict. Here are some of the activities that have continued to run these past weeks: