The high expectations that followed the country's independence on the 9th of July 2011 have met with harsh realities. The challenges are largely due to the devastating effect of decades of civil war and underdevelopment. The world's newest state is also one of the poorest. Most South Sudanese struggle to meet their basic needs. Food insecurity is a concern and affects half of the population. The border dispute with the Republic of Sudan, led to another outbreak of hostilities in 2012 and the shutting down of oil production which generated 98 percent of the government's revenues, thus further increasing the vulnerability of the population.
Since October 2010, more than 450,000 South Sudanese living in the north have returned to South Sudan, this flow of people continues today. Due to a lack of basic services and very weak infrastructure, most of these people have yet to be fully integrated into a country of approximately eight million citizens.
Fighting between ethnic communities and between the army and militia groups, a dire lack of social services and extremely low levels of literacy and human resources are further constraints for the state-building process and for the creation of acceptable living conditions. Weapons left over from the civil war have made bloodshed and death common traits of today's raids. 177 conflict incidents were reported to the United Nations up to mid-2012 alone, leaving nearly 165,000 people newly displaced this year.
Fighting in the transitional border areas has also increased the number of Sudanese seeking refuge in South Sudan. As of July 2012, more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees were receiving humanitarian assistance in South Sudan.
The European Commission is supporting life-saving activities in South Sudan with more than €150 million since 2011. The aid includes assistance for internally displaced people, returnees and refugees, providing them with basic healthcare, clean water, sanitation and food assistance. A team of ECHO experts is permanently based in the country, working closely with partner relief organisations and monitoring the situation and the efficient use of EU funds. ECHO partner organisations in South Sudan include United Nations' agencies, non-governmental organisations and international organisations such as International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).