UN Peacekeepers Expected at Birth of South Sudan
New nation will be one of world's poorest
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2011 2:50 AM CDT
Southern Sudanese security forces watch over an independence rehearsal procession in Juba, southern Sudan yesterday.   (AP Photo/Pete Muller)
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(Newser) – Up to 7,000 UN peacekeeping forces will be sent to South Sudan to help with the birth of the world's newest country, which officially separates from Sudan at midday tomorrow, reports the Telegraph. The Christian-majority south has been fighting with the Muslim-majority north for 38 of the 54 years since Sudan gained independence from Britain, and many fear that the poor, gun-filled new nation will quickly become a failed state.

"There has been good progress since the end of the war, but real change is going to be generational," an official at the UN Development Program says. With 80% illiteracy and fewer than 500 doctors in a France-sized nation of 8 million people, South Sudan is expected to instantly replace Zimbabwe as the lowest-ranked country on the UN's development index. "It's fair to say that these are political and security challenges that would tax even the most developed countries," a senior Western diplomat says. "South Sudan is facing all of them, and all at once."