Clowns Without Borders work in South Sudan technically started in 2014. Incidentally, 2014’s clown troupe returned to many of the same refugee camps it toured in 2009 when the country was still Sudan. South Sudan is home to more than 1.6 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and nearly 720,000 refugees from neighboring countries. Many children of this fledgling nation have witnessed alarming levels of violence and experienced trauma that is very distressing and heartbreaking. The war has stripped them of their fundamental children’s rights – to laugh, to play, to dream, and most of all, to be safe.
South Sudan first became an independent nation in 2011, when the overwhelming majority voted in favor of its independence. In a historic seven-day secessionist referendum that began in southern Sudan on January 9, 2011, 98.8% of voters chose independence from the north. The referendum was a provision of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended a 22-year civil war that killed 2.5 million people and displaced 4 million. Some consider the civil war the worst humanitarian crisis of the second half of the twentieth century. Feuds between ethnic groups and political instability place South Sudan on shaky ground. Crop loss and food crisis stemming from prolonged droughts make life difficult for most. Renewed conflict and a mass evacuation of peacekeepers compelled CWB-USA to cancel it’s 2016 project to South Sudan.