Ordinary South Sudan citizens have been extraordinarily affected by the violent events of the past weeks. The destruction of hospitals and markets, as well as the increased pressure on host communities due to mass displacement, brings me to this conclusion: South Sudan will face a humanitarian emergency for the months to come, and its people will need all the help they can get.
It is a tactic beloved of despots: while the world's attention is on one bloody conflict, you can slaughter with impunity elsewhere... Since mid-December the media has watched as the world's newest nation, South Sudan, has torn itself apart. Meanwhile, its old oppressor next door in Sudan is enthusiastically grasping the chance to "end" its own troublesome "rebellion".
I work for Médecins sans Frontières (aka Doctors Without Borders). Professional humanitarians are many things; rarely superstitious. And yet 2013 has proven a year to leave behind, and I find myself harbouring nothing morbid, yet nonetheless fairly shaken by the 13th year of the new millennium... As a director in MSF, the spectre of Somalia 2013 leaves me feeling apprehensive about Syria, CAR or Sudan in 2014. Or Myanmar and DRC. Or many others.
The latest civil conflict within newly-independent South Sudan is a depressing, avoidable tragedy. This is a part of Africa that has already fought two 'civil' wars in pursuit of independence. It is chronically poor and suffers the worlds highest infant and maternal mortality - and female illiteracy.
Sudanese have plenty of reasons to demonstrate against the disastrous state of the country's finances; inflation is running at 40% and years of oil revenues have been frittered away. Beyond the capital, Khartoum, there has been little investment in infrastructure, education or heath facilities. Unemployment and under-employment have demoralised those millions who do not benefit from the crony capitalism that has sustained the ruling elite for decades.
Clooney believes that coffee production represents an exciting opportunity to "change South Sudan so that they can help themselves and not rely on aid from people who they really don't want to have aid from' and encourage "the sort of national dignity which can help a young, struggling country succeed".
The inability to work together effectively has cost Sudan and South Sudan dear. The 15-month oil blockade imposed by South Sudan in January 2012 brought both economies to their knees. Whilst the rest of sub-Saharan Africa saw annual GDP grow between 5 and 6% in 2012, GDP fell by a shocking 55% in South Sudan and nearly 1% in Sudan.
Children have lost their families and have been displaced and exploited as soldiers. They've lost their hopes for a better future. Women were raped and tortured and saw their own children and husbands slaughtered. People were starved to death while escaping war. A whole nation has been deformed by the sins of war.