The Difference Between Sudan and South Sudan, Explained

brush up on your geography and exactly what we focus on

Posted by Mark Hackett on September 25th, 2018

In our line of work, we frequently hear people mix up Sudan and South Sudan, as well as which country Operation Broken Silence focuses on. Here's everything you need to know, all in one place:

Sudan & South Sudan Are Two Different Countries

Yes, Sudan and South Sudan are two different countries. They each have their own governments, political and societal structures, currency, and so much more. Here's a handy dandy map:

South Sudan officially became the world's newest country in 2011 following a series of escalating conflicts with successive northern governments. The Second Sudanese Civil War that occurred from 1983-2005 witnessed horrific destruction across what was then southern Sudan. During that conflict, Sudan's current dictatorship committed a genocide against southern tribes. More on that conflict here

Nearing the end of that brutal conflict, several international actors, including the United States, brokered the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. While much more complex than described here, the CPA set the stage for South Sudan to vote on becoming the world's newest country or not. Southerners voted virtually unanimously for indepedence at the beginning of 2011 and secured their new freedom later that year.

So There Is Peace In Sudan Now?

There is peace between Sudan and South Sudan, but Sudan is mired in multiple civil wars and government-led campaigns of mass violence against civilians. 

The Bashir dictatorship remains in power in Sudan and has continued to wage genocidal wars and campaigns of oppression against people groups it deems unfit to remain in the country. Regime forces remain heavily deployed in the genocide-ravaged western Darfur region, as well as South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile States in the southern part of the country. These two southern areas largely sided with  what is present-day South Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War, but the CPA left them on the north side of the border. Here's another map:

As South Sudan moved towards indepedence in 2011, Sudan's dictatorship launched another genocidal war against the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan and Blue Nile state to ensure they would not attempt to secede or seek more autonomy as well. While fighting and targeted killings have ebbed and flowed over the years there, those conflicts continue today with no peace agreement in sight. 

Yikes. Well, Is South Sudan At Peace Then?

Also a sad no. At the end of 2013, South Sudan's rebels-turned-leaders split into two camps and began a civil war that quickly spilled out along tribal lines. Since then, the conflict has fractured even further as the two main sides have splintered and peace agreements and ceasefires are routinely broken. The price for this senseless conflict has been borne by the country's citizens, who after so many years of war before independence still want a lasting peace. 

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Got It. So Where Does Operation Broken Silence Focus?

Glad you asked! This is where people sometimes get confused about who we work with and where our geographic focus is. Here's the answer: we focus strictly on Sudan, but do some work in South Sudan due to Sudanese refugees being there. We do not work on the South Sudan conflict

Our Storytelling and Movement Building and Education and Emergency Relief programs focus on the Nuba Mountains region of South Kordofan state in Sudan. Our Grassroots Advocacy program focuses on all of Sudan and some broader armed conflict-related issues. You can scroll back up to see the map for a quick reminder.

Because the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan are near the border of Sudan and South Sudan, we do work in one of the primary Nuba refugee camps in South Sudan, but we do not focus on South Sudan. For example, Operation Broken Silence sponsors the high-performing Endure Primary School in Yida Refugee Camp, South Sudan.  All of the students are from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, not South Sudan. 

There are several reasons why we focus on Sudan and not South Sudan. Here are just a few:

  • We're a small nonprofit with limited resources. We simply do not have the bandwith to work on two seperate countries in crisis. 
  • When South Sudan became the world's newest country, most international attention in the region shifted away from Sudan to South Sudan. This has left tremendous resource gaps and a near-complete media blackout on the most oppressed people groups in Sudan. While the needs in both countries are massive, Sudan gets far less attention than South Sudan does. 
  • We've been connected to the Nuba Mountains from the start. We're headquarted in Memphis, TN, where there is a large Nuba refugee community, and we have some amazing Nuba partners on the ground in Sudan and Yida Refugee Camp. We love the Nuba people, and they deserve a better future. We're helping them get their a little faster.

Have more questions about Sudan? Visit our Educational Resources page for more. 

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The people of Sudan are overcoming two of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: war and genocide. Operation Broken Silence is working to accelerate their ability to generate lasting change through storytelling and movement-building, education and emergency response, and grassroots advocacy programs.

Here are three simple and effective ways you can directly empower the Sudanese people! We encourage you to pick one:

1. Join The Renewal. This is our family of monthly givers who never stop pushing the needle forwards. They give automatically each and every month, providing consistent support to our Sudanese partners. Renewal members who give $25+ a month also get free tickets to our two annual events. LEARN MORE »

2. Become A Fundraiser. You can start an online fundraising page for the Endure Primary School in Yida Refugee Camp or Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains. Bonus points: we also have a new campaign that has soft-launched that you can join early. Your fundraising will change lives for the better. BECOME A FUNDRAISER »

3. Give once. Not ready to give monthly or fundraise quite yet? Get your feet wet by making a one-time donation. GIVE HERE »

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