Between 2013 and 2018, South Sudan was completely overrun by civil war. After a failed attempt at peace in 2016, the country’s president Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar signed a revitalized peace agreement that aimed to form a unified transitional government in February of 2020. While relative peace has prevailed in much of the country, stumbling blocks have still hindered the process. Delays in the formation of a unified national army and disagreements over the number of states in the country and their boundaries have put the peace agreement on a delicate tightrope. Meanwhile the country's people have grown even more weary of the instability and uncertainty. These photographs were taken after the signing of the new peace agreement in 2018. They attempt to map out South Sudan’s delicate road to peace, documenting the individuals who are striving to build a life among the chaos that their country has brought them, and the soldiers that the country’s stability relies on.
South Sudan: The Road to Peace
Series, 2nd place
Young people from a PoC (Protection of Civilians) site wait for the bus before taking their final national school exams in Juba, South Sudan on January 24, 2019. Around 35,000 internally displaced persons from all around South Sudan remain living in two camps on the outskirts of the country’s capital.
IDP’s take part in a traditional Shilluk church ceremony for the protection of a civilian site in Malakal, South Sudan, on March 31, 2019. Some 30,000 internally displaced persons continue to inhabit the camp in the north of the country despite the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement between government and opposition forces in 2018.
Tiger Division forces assigned as Salva Kiir’s presidential guard perform drills at their barracks in Rajaf, South Sudan, on April 26, 2019. Though the guard is supposed to be comprised of an equal share of former SPLA soldiers and former SPLA-IO soldiers, the two armies have only just commenced training together despite the looming deadline for the formation of a unity government on February 22nd.
SSPDF chaplains pray with injured soldiers at Juba Military Hospital in the Gyada area of Juba, South Sudan, on April 27, 2019. Despite a ceasefire agreement signed between the government and opposition forces in 2018, violence continues in the country with interethnic fighting having risen in place of the war that had been tearing the country apart since 2013.
Wives and daughters of SSPDF (South Sudan People's Defense Force) soldiers sing at a Sunday service at a church for the residents of local barracks in Yei, South Sudan, on April 14, 2019. While peace has generally prevailed across the country in South Sudan, pockets of violence have persisted in the south of the country in regions like Yei with groups who have refused to be co-signatories to the revitalized peace agreement.
A man rolls out a red carpet in preparation for the arrival of Dr. Riek Machar in South Sudan on Monday, September 9, 2019. Machar’s visit is his second to the country since he fled on foot to DRC in 2016 amid an outbreak of fighting between his SPLA-IO soldiers and government forces in Juba.
Refugees and the local host community fish together at a stream formed by intense flooding in Maban, South Sudan on Wednesday, November 27, 2019. Large areas of eastern South Sudan have been affected by heavy rains in the past months, leaving an estimated 420,000 people displaced from their homes.
A marching band plays in anticipation of the arrival of the United Nations Security Council at the South Sudan National Police Academy in Rambor, South Sudan on Sunday, October 20, 2019. The site has been designated as a joint training facility for government SSPDF solders, and opposition SPLA-IO and SSOA soldiers as part of the country’s revitalized peace agreement.
SSPDF soldiers and two civilian women take a military helicopter out of Juba as they make their way to a cantonment registration in Pibor, South Sudan, on Friday, September 27, 2019. Governmental SSPDF soldiers and opposition SPLA-IO and SSOA forces have started a registration and screening process in cantonment sites across the country. The three forces, which had been at war with one another until September 2018, aim to merge as a unified national force before a transitional unity government is formed in February.
Egyptian Air Force pilots walk along the wing of a cargo plane in Juba, South Sudan, on September 11, 2019. A cargo plane loaded with 300 tents and 3,200 military uniforms arrived in Juba from Cairo, Egypt, as a contribution towards the cantonment plans of South Sudan’s military and opposition forces as part of the revitalized peace agreement signed between the two opposing forces, governmental SSPDF soldiers and opposition SPLA-IO.
Children take part in a traditional Shilluk ceremony for the protection of a civilian site in Malakal, South Sudan on March 31, 2019. Some 30,000 internally displaced persons continue to inhabit the camp in the north of the country despite the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement between the government and opposition forces in 2018.
Locals gather round a bomb after it was disarmed by an UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service) team in Juba, South Sudan, on January 16, 2019. An old Sudanese 50 kg aerial bomb was disarmed by UNMAS after it was discovered by SSPDF forces in the densely populated Mangateen area, a district of the country's capital.