International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Referendum day in Southern Sudan

Today — January 9, 2011 — Southern Sudan is holding a referendum in which its people will decide whether to remain part of a united Sudan, Africa's largest nation, or to secede and become the world's newest independent country. Whatever the outcome, Southern Sudan faces major long-term challenges.

After decades of civil war and neglect, Southern Sudan is one of the poorest and least developed places on earth. Since the signing of the 2005 peace agreement — bringing an end to one of Africa's longest running wars, which claimed more than 2 million lives — Southern Sudan has had to rebuild from scratch.

Millions of Southern Sudanese are dependent on food aid, maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the world and one child in seven dies before the age of five. Much of the region's economic and social infrastructure was left in ruins. There are few functioning schools and hospitals. Southern Sudan will continue to need the support and assistance of the international community for many years to come.

With over 20 years of experience in the region, the International Rescue Committee aids over half a million Southern Sudanese while helping them to prepare for the future.

Download our new fact sheet about Southern Sudan and how the IRC helps  and follow our Crisis Watch coverage from Southern Sudan at

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