THE BURDEN OF INNOCENT CITIZENS IN SOUTH SUDANESE CIVIL WAR
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”, John F. Kennedy.
BY SUNDAY JIAL
August 4, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — It was Sunday morning, and as normal practice, the faithful are suppose to go for Sunday Mass Service. Today it’s not the case, the faithful have nowhere to pray; the mass has to be cancelled since the ‘open space’ where congregations use to sit has become a swimming pool. On the same Sunday morning, the Humanitarian Organizations were distributing the food aid to civilians in Bentiu IDPs Camp. After the distribution, the IDPs were carrying their rations home on a swampy path inside the UNMISS Camp. The writer could witness some of them sliding and helplessly throwing away the bags of sorghum they received as a result of a muddy and slippery ground coupled with flood. Despite the flood that has taken almost all the makeshift tukuls of the IDPs, the clouds were still amassing – a sign that shows the likelihood of another rainfall in the pipeline in an already flooded Protection Site.
Dang, an IDP selling lentils in a swampy market in the Protection Site described to the author how he sleeps at night: “I sleep on a blanket in a dumpy tukul. Every night I sleep, I feel like I am sick. It’s only in the morning, especially after the sunrise that’s when I feel I am recovered from the nightlong’s sickness”. He described how a situation similar to his has affected other IDPs as well: “The dumpy ground is what causes many diseases. If you go to the clinic now, you will find many people who are sick. And that is because the camp is flooded”. When asked about what he think could lessen the suffering of over 40,000 IDPs in Bentiu IDPs Camp, he suggested the relocation of the Camp to a sandy area far from Bentiu town.
Another trader who identified herself as Nyapar was sitting on an empty oil tin in her watery market place selling kudro when she shared a bit of her story with this author: “My husband was killed in Bentiu in January and I have become the head of the family. I am neither working with governmental institution nor NGO. And as such, the food that is given to us by WFP cannot be grinded if I am not running a petty business as you can see. I normally go to the bush and prune these green vegetables (kudro) and sell them here so that I have something to grind my children’s ration with”. She described as horrible the problem she and her colleagues are facing while running the aforementioned petty business: “Sometime you find armed men who threaten to kill you there in the bush. In most cases, their intention is to rape you. If you refuse to cooperate, then you will end up being killed. Three of my colleagues were killed by armed men while pruning kudro along the road near the Protection Site in May this year”. She described her business as a suffering-alleviating-business, which is meant only for family survival as denied to a profitable one.
The IDPs feel disillusioned about the slowness in the peace process in Addis Ababa, with some blaming the Mediators of dragging feet on the mediation process. Ruai, a youth rights activist casts doubt on the success of IGAD’s Peace Mediation process: “The Mediators are either conflict entrepreneurs or incapable of mediating the peace talk. How come the process could take seven months without materialization, he wondered?”
Others claimed the world has turned a deaf ear on South Sudan as they have put more focus on Palestinians and Syrians conflicts: “When over 20,000 people died in the ongoing South Sudanese conflict, the world remained silence. Recently when an estimate of 1000 Palestinians died in Palestine-Israeli conflict, the International Community rushed in to ensure the hostilities are halted, observed Makuei”. He described the International Community’s intervention strategy in conflict situations as bias, suggesting that it should be reviewed to reconsider addressing the plight of millions of innocent civil populations affected by armed conflicts in African Continent.
The Author is a Research Fellow in Armed Conflict, Household Income, Gender Relations and State Building in South Sudan. He can be reach on: firstname.lastname@example.org.