Timeline: South Sudan’s history at a glance

February 16, 2017
Written by Kristin Myers
Photo by Kieran McConville

South Sudan hasn’t known peace since it became an independent nation in 2011. Take a look at the timeline below for a peek into the country’s history, from its violent split from Sudan through to today.

2005

Comprehensive Peace Agreement

Comprehensive Peace Agreement

After years of conflict, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudanese government and southern Sudan is signed. Southern Sudan is made a semi-autonomous region and guaranteed a referendum on independence within six years.

2010

Salva Kiir elected president

Salva Kiir elected president

Salva Kiir Mayardit is elected president of southern Sudan with 93% of the vote.

2011

Sudanese people vote

Sudanese people vote

Southern Sudanese people vote to decide whether to secede from Sudan. Nationals around the world cast their votes.

2011

South Sudan separates

South Sudan separates

With an overwhelming 98% of the vote, southern Sudan votes to separate from Sudan.

2011

Independence

Independence

After decades of fighting with the north, South Sudan is recognized as an independent nation.

2013

Cabinet fired

Cabinet fired

President Kiir fires his entire Cabinet, including Vice President Riek Machar.  

2013

Violence erupts

Violence erupts

After a few months of relative calm, violence erupts and fighting breaks out between government forces and soldiers loyal to Machar.

2014

Cease-fire

Cease-fire

The South Sudanese government and Machar’s forces sign a cease-fire.  

2014

Over one million flee

Over one million flee

UN reports that more than a million have fled their homes, including over 800,00 internally displaced.

2015

Over two million displaced

Over two million displaced

The UN estimates that more than 2.2 million have been displaced due to the fighting, which is also causing food shortages and increasing rates of disease.

2015

Peace deal

Peace deal

President Kiir signs a new peace deal with Riek Machar after threats of UN sanctions.

2016

Machar reinstated

Machar reinstated

President Kiir reinstates Riek Machar as Vice President as a part of a deal to end South Sudan’s civil war. He is sworn in in April.

2016

Fighting begins again

Fighting begins again

Fighting breaks out between government forces and soldiers loyal to Vice President Machar. Hundreds are left dead, and Machar flees the country.

2016

Machar removed again

Machar removed again

President Kiir removes Riek Machar as Vice President for the second time, replacing him with Taban Deng Gai. Machar’s camp calls the replacement illegal.  

2016

Huge numbers flee South Sudan

Huge numbers flee South Sudan

UN High Commissioner for Refugees says more than 60,000 people have fled South Sudan since July due to fighting.

2016

UN concerned by conflict

UN concerned by conflict

UN warns that South Sudan is at risk of “outright ethnic war.”

2016

Arms embargo

Arms embargo

US seeks arms embargo against South Sudan through the UN Security Council.

2016

South Sudan arms embargo blocked

South Sudan arms embargo blocked

UN blocks US-backed arms embargo against South Sudan.

2017

South Sudan rejects peacekeepers

South Sudan rejects peacekeepers

South Sudan rejects additional UN peacekeepers, citing improved security situation.

2017

Confidential UN report

Confidential UN report

Reuters cites a confidential UN report, calling for “credible pressure” to be applied to South Sudan.

2017

Growing numbers flee

Growing numbers flee

UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that number of refugees who have fled South Sudan tops 1.5 million.

UN and South Sudan government declares famine in two counties of Unity State.

2017

Famine declared

Famine declared

UN and South Sudan government declares famine in two counties of Unity State.

UN and South Sudan government declares famine in two counties of Unity State.

2017

Famine ends

Famine ends

South Sudan famine is officially undeclared in June 2017, although food insecurity still remains prevalent.

South Sudan famine is officially undeclared in June 2017, although food insecurity still remains prevalent.

2017

1 million refugees

1 million refugees

According to the UN, the number of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda passes the 1 million mark.

According to the UN, the number of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda passes the 1 million mark.

2018

Peace deal, redux

Peace deal, redux

An agreement is signed by the South Sudanese government and its main political opposition. The deal offers some hope for peace, but a hard road forward for bringing the peace deal to fruition.

An agreement is signed by the South Sudanese government and its main political opposition. The deal offers some hope for peace, but a hard road forward for bringing the peace deal to fruition.

While the peace deal holds, nearly 7 million people are threatened by food insecurity, with the United Nations declaring that “without scaled-up humanitarian assistance, more and more people are at risk.” Sexual violence against women and girls remains “endemic.”

2019

Risk, insecurity, and violence remain

Risk, insecurity, and violence remain

While the peace deal holds, nearly 7 million people are threatened by food insecurity, with the United Nations declaring that “without scaled-up humanitarian assistance, more and more people are at risk.” Sexual violence against women and girls remains “endemic.”