Ten years of independence in South Sudan: Stories from MSF's South Sudanese staff

South Sudan 2021 © MSF

July 9, 2021, marked a decade since South Sudan gained its independence. In this short documentary, South Sudanese Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff members recount their personal experiences of the exuberance they felt at that moment—and the violence that followed.

Over the last decade, the people of South Sudan have suffered through a civil war, intercommunal conflict, and insurgent fighting. MSF's South Sudanese staff have seen and felt this suffering first-hand while also responding to its consequences: the injuries and deaths from attacks on civilians and ethnically motivated violence, sexual violence, widespread displacement, and much more.

South Sudan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for humanitarian workers. Since it gained independence, 176 aid workers have been killed and 334 injured. Workers of South Sudanese origin make up 94 percent of those deaths, and MSF has tragically lost 24 South Sudanese staff due to violence in the last ten years, five of whom were on duty at the time.

Despite the urgent need for medical services in the country, little effort has been made to protect staff, patients, or humanitarian projects. Peace accords in 2018 brought a ceasefire between the main warring parties in South Sudan, but fighting continues in some areas and the country remains in the grips of a prolonged humanitarian crisis.