LONDON, July 8 — UNICEF UK Ambassador Martin Bell met with bloggers and reporters at UNICEF's London office today, for a roundtable discussion on South Sudan's independence.

"Never in the 18 war zones I’ve reported from can I think of a more arduous country to be born in than South Sudan," he said. "There is no country where UNICEF’s work is more necessary."

Bell, a foreign correspondent for the BBC for over 30 years, visited South Sudan in April with fellow UNICEF ambassador Mia Farrow.

"By almost every indication, South Sudan is going to be one of the poorest countries in the world," he said. "This country will need more than flags and anthems this weekend."

Millions of children in Sudan have no access to schools, basic health care, vaccination programmes or clean water, and many are still displaced and at risk.

In the southern state of Western Equatoria, Martin witnessed the devastating impact on the lives of women and children from attacks by the brutal rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army.

"South Sudan is living on the edge," he said. "But it could and should be a moment of great hope. There's so much energy and goodwill in South Sudan right now, and a chance for a fresh start." 

 
Flora Anthony, 18, speaks with UNICEF Ambassadors Martin Bell and Mia Farrow about returning to Southern Sudan ahead of separation. © Veronique de Viguerie/Reportage by Getty Images for UNICEF
Flora Anthony, 18, speaks with UNICEF Ambassadors Martin Bell and Mia Farrow about returning to Southern Sudan ahead of separation.© Veronique de Viguerie/Reportage by Getty Images for UNICEF