Features

The plight of South Sudan

NOAH HASSAN ABBAKER
It seems that the  international community has not learned enough from the famine and drought which hit Ethiopia in the 1980s until  the  late  Kenyan photojournalist Mohammed Amin drew the attention of the world and tens of thousands of the famine-stricken were saved.
History repeats itself as the Somalis have been fighting each other since early 1990s, immediately after their president was forced into exile, and thousands of people perished or left in agony.
In the 1990s, the whole world stood helpless as over one million innocent Rwandese were massacred and in the aftermath a committee of enquiry was established to find out who was responsible.
South Sudan voluntarily separated from Sudan after the world was deceived to believe that Sudan was out to kill its citizens of African origin and thus many African countries believed so. Immediately after separation, the same black to black civil war erupted there .Unfortunately the tribal war has not been for the sake of taking over power but for tribal tit for tat war and to assume power over the bodies of innocent people and the cry of babies, widows and helpless mothers. Today and in the twenty first century, people in South Sudan live in fear as more than five million or 50 percent of  the total population experience difficult situations and some prefer death than to live in misery.
Ironically, the same country, Sudan, which was accused by the South Sudan government of  interfering in their internal affairs  has been witnessing inflows of over three hundred thousand people escaping the civil war in South Sudan and seeking refuge  in a country their government regarded as enemy number one.
The Sudanese government brushed aside all sad memories of accusations of alleged intended war to wipe out the black and Christians, and started sending humanitarian aid at the official and private levels. So far, the government of Sudan has donated food hampers estimated at ten thousand tons of grain as well other assorted food stuff to mitigate the plight of the displaced people.
Sudan has also pledged to extend more relief aid to them in the form of medical treatment, shelter and clean drinking water as it is expected that more than one million will sneak into Sudan.
The extended humanitarian aid by Sudan must be recorded and appreciated by the African Union Commission as well as individual African countries.
Unfortunately most African countries could not render support to their own brothers and sisters in South Sudan but awaiting relief from countries such as the United States of America or Briton.
The situation there presses the button of danger and humanitarian catastrophe due to the killing of innocent people for no reason as reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). For how long should Sudan alone, within Africa, bear such pressure to feed the refugees and displaced? Is Africa waiting for the repeat of unbearable historical  events such as in Rwanda and Ethiopia?
African countries, especially Uganda, Kenya and Zambia need to join hands with the Sudan and plot urgently on how to convince warring parties to silence the gun for the sake of their own  people. There is no time to be wasted as lawlessness and killing of innocent people have become the order of the day in South Sudan. South Sudan leadership needs to follow suit of the Sudan and arrange for an urgent national dialogue among all stakeholders. South Sudan needs to learn from its own history as the fifty plus years of civil war could not achieve anything to the people of South Sudan but when it resorted to peace negotiations in the early years of the twenty first century, they achieved their goal of peaceful separation. The leadership in South Sudan has the upper hand to stop the war and gain confidence of the fighting rival. The leadership there needs to take a bold decision and call for ceasefire, referendum on how South Sudan could be governed with assurance of  equal distribution of power and wealth. The South Sudan leadership may approach Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Kenya on how to assist as these countries have vast experiences which are readily available to be rendered to solve their problems. For example, Sudan has reaped a lot from the national dialogue and reconciliation approaches as many armed rebel movements have laid down their weapons and joined the national unity government wagon. Uganda is a neighboring country of South Sudan and its powerful leader, Yoweri Museveni, will not hesitate to render assistance based on his positive mediation style. Zambia, a peace torch bearer and had solved complicated issues in neighbouring countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibia shall also contribute with its peace input to assist South Sudan.
The problem in South Sudan, if not attended, shall jeopardise peace and security of many neighbouring countries as well as to retard development not only in South Sudan but  the continent in general. This is an appropriate time and appeal or media fraternity in Africa to draw attention of the continent in particular and the world at large to the scourge.
The author, Noah Hassan Abbaker, is a Lusaka based freelancer muazin2@yahoo.com    0975496272

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