An independence referendum in Sudan could result in the splitting of the largest country in Africa, after decades of war and more than two million lives lost. Polls opened on Sunday just after 8 a.m. local time and it’s most likely that people will overwhelmingly vote for secession, says the New York Times.
Tens of thousands have gathered to vote in the referendum that the United States government has played a pivotal role in. In 2005, it pushed the northern and southern Sudanese to sign a peace treaty that set the referendum in motion.
As it stands now, southern Sudan is one of the poorest places on earth. Some analysts warn southern Sudan could be the next Somalia, plagued with violence. Most people here survive on less than 75 cents a day. More than three-quarters of adults cannot read. Decades of civil war and marginalization have left the economy so crushed that just about everything is imported, down to eggs.
According to Oxfam, a teenage girl has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than finishing elementary school. Aid agencies are already warning about a lack of food, water, health care and sanitation.