In June, photographer Simon Murphy and journalist Danielle
Batist set off to South Sudan to witness the last days of Africa's
biggest nation. They spent time in returnee settlements,
experienced chaos caused by fuel shortages, listened to the life
stories of people with disabilities and visited a leper colony.
They documented it all for the Street News Service.
Here is a list of all the stories the Street News Service has produced:
At first sight, the village of Rokwe on the outskirts of Juba looks like any other village in South Sudan. The sun shines bright on the grass roofs of the mud huts and sounds from a church choir practising can be heard in the distance. Only the scenery at the local health centre gives away that this is no ordinary place. Dozens of patients seek shelter from the sun on the concrete veranda. Many have more than one disfigured limb. Some are able to move around, others struggle to walk. Rokwe is a leper colony.
When poverty-stricken South Sudan became independent in July, its list of priorities was huge. With security, food, health care, education and infrastructure all in urgent need of attention, developing the media landscape might seem a lost battle. But one independent radio station in Juba is fighting nonetheless.
On the outskirts of the South Sudanese capital of Juba, Sabia Leot's life is wretched. The 21-year-old is pregnant and for the past five months she's been homeless, spending most days wandering the streets with her three children desperately trying to find work, food and shelter. This feature also has a extended version: Starting from scratch.
On the 9th of July, South Sudan will split from the north and become the world's newest nation. After decades of bloody civil war which left 2 million people dead, southerners prepare for life in an independent country. A country that some won't ever be able to see.
Yoama Brown's childhood was marked by civil war. When the soldiers came to raid the village, everyone would run to the next town for safety. Paralysed not just by fear but by polio, Yoama had to hide and pray not to be found.
From across the border, they anxiously watch the drama unfold. As their home land of South Sudan prepares itself to split from the Islamic north, fighting continues across the disputed oil-rich areas. During the decades of civil war, almost 400,000 refugees dreamt of the day independence would come. But now it is finally there, many are not ready to go home.
Just before Africa's largest country will split into two, Street News Service Editor Danielle Batist travelled to South Sudan to see a nation getting ready for independence. Here, she reflects on her journey.
Sudan was under British-Egyptian rule between 1899 and 1956. The north and south were separated until 1946. During this period the majority of development was focused in the north, with the southern states and other peripheral regions, including Darfur, both politically and economically marginalised.
The peaceful referendum leading up to independence was no predictor for the conflict that has started again in the past weeks. According to the United Nations, more than 360,000 people have been displaced in Sudan over the past 6 months, and more than half were displaced in the past month alone. The heaviest fighting has been concentrated in the three oil-rich border areas that have been disputed ever since the signing of the north/south peace agreement in 2005: Abyei, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.
Juan Gore's journey across Africa was driven by a search for peace and a better education. The 39-year old grew up in Juba, the capital of war-torn Southern Sudan. She was educated in down town Juba, but when the war intensified in 1986, villagers from across the state fled to the town, seeking refuge in school buildings. Many schools closed for three or six months at a time. Bombs destroyed parts of the town and the situation became more and more insecure.
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between North and South Sudan raised hopes for stability across the country. For 20-year old Lorna Luka, these hopes turned out to be too high. In 2008, tribal conflict erupted in the town of Rubor near the Southern Sudanese capital city of Juba. The town was home to the Bari, the tribe Lorna belongs to.
Until her seventh birthday, Sabia Leot had been a happy child. She grew up in a small village near the town of Yei -towards the South Sudanese border- with her mother and father. She was a miracle, as her mother had many miscarriages before and after Sabia's birth and didn't think she was able to conceive. Disaster struck when both her parents died of an unknown disease.
Richard Luka grew up in Khartoum, but he was always aware of the fact that he was a southerner. "In school, I spoke Arabic, but at home we spoke our mother tongue, Bari. My parents used to tell us all about Juba. Whenever we saw Juba on television, my parents would call us over. It looked so beautiful to me. My dream was always to go back there. I knew it was my home."
Salva Kiir's reputation as the quiet man of Sudanese politics, with an eccentric taste in cowboy hats, masks a wily operator who is about to steer his impoverished region into full statehood on July 9.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said that relations with Sudan would remain good no matter what changes may occur as the African nation prepares for its south to secede.
SNS's coverage from South Sudan is already hitting street papers around the world.