Wednesday, March 29, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Fwd: [NaijaPolitics] South Sudan Is Dying

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "DIPO ENIOLA [NaijaPolitics]"
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:48:32 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: [NaijaPolitics] South Sudan Is Dying
To: Politics Naija <>*N2GnCpaqEFmaojCoTRTpAQ.jpeg

South Sudan Is Dying

Millions displaced, hundreds of thousands starving
by NORMA COSTELLOMarshes and dirt. Marshes and dirt. The war in South
Sudan could be explained by its harsh and bewildering terrain.The only
way to travel in one of the world's poorest and most violent countries
is in small, U.N.-charted planes, whose crisply-dressed pilots crouch
down to explain safety features while gun-armed Toyotas speed down the
runway."There are several safety exits in this aircraft, but hopefully
we won't need them," our captain jokes as we wait for a passenger
who's been holding up the flight.I'd take a picture, but photography
is forbidden. Probably because Juba airport is one of the main
arteries for the weapons flooding into the world's newest country.The
Republic of South Sudan was born out of decades of fighting between
guerrillas of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, or SPLA, and the
Sudanese government in Khartoum.After a 2011 referendum freed South
Sudan from Sudan, the country quickly descended into a brutal civil
war pitting the ruling Dinke tribe under the leadership of Pres. Salva
Kiir Mayardit against those — mainly from the Nuer tribe — who support
the Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition, or SPLA -IO.In 2013
Kir accused Vice Pres. Riek Machar of instigating a coup, which caused
Machar to lead his "white army" of Nuer troops against the Dinke-led
SPLA.Tribal violence has forced nearly 2.5 million people from their
homes. No fewer than 100,000 people are starving. Mass graves, rape,
recruitment of child soldiers — South Sudan has it all. On the
streets, people whisper that this could be the next Rwanda.In Melut in
the Upper Nile region, U.N. peacekeepers are powerless as the White
Nile, once a source of fish for the local community, has become a
military frontier. The SPLA lies to the east. The SPLA-IO to the west.*MiFGesF9DZ1uyVjAfaVnHQ.jpeg

Melut is oil country. The nearest airport — Paloich — was built with
Chinese oil money, as was the asphalt road that ends abruptly beyond
the company's last outpost. Chinese engineers crowd the airport.What
look like sandbags lined up near some SPLA troops are actually sacks
of food aid from the U.N. World Food Program. In South Sudan, a
country of 11 million, everyone takes a cut.In one of South Sudan's
huge refugee camps near Khorfulus, a former guerrilla named Simon — he
lost a leg fighting against the Khartoum government — says aid
supplies always wind up in the market.
"Take for example soap, that stuff is always going missing," Simon
says. "We know it's been sent here, but when it arrives it ends up in
the market. We have nothing. How can we afford to buy it, especially
at those high prices?"Since the war the South Sudanese pound has
plummeted. Even when goods are available, people can't afford them —
leaving them dependent on foreign aid.Sarah Nyalony is a Dinke
grandmother in her mid-50s. Since her husband was killed several years
ago, she's now head of her family. "We get 2.5 to three kilograms of
sorghum for a whole month," she says, as a male camp chaperon looks
on. "It's nothing. We have no other food. At the very beginning, we
used to get salt and lentils but we haven't seen that for so long. As
for cooking oil — ha! It's a thing of dreams."The sorghum often comes
whole and unground, which means locals inside the camp try to collect
and sell firewood to pay the grinders. Otherwise they use whatever
stones they can fine to grind the grain themselves.*vJCCUsJciswbV0LtbHXGVA.jpeg

Sarah — who says she hasn't tasted salt in three years — explains that
locals are using seeds to supplement their diet in the scorching-hot
camp. "We collect seeds and grind them down to add to the sorghum.
It's the only thing we can add to it. We have tried everything in the
bush and this is it during the dry season." Water is also scarce.The
conflict in South Sudan is unpredictable and is composed of a series
of random, sporadic flashpoints. Holding and taking ground in South
Sudan rarely happens. And that means civilians are always fleeing
somewhere.Many men and some women join small bands of fighters loyal
to the SPLA, SPLA-IO, Neur or Dinke. Actors change sides and alliances
collapse and the country's inaccessible regions are often left
entirely out of the picture.Everyone seems to have a gun. It's
chaos.In Juba, SPLA troops go from door to door "collecting" weapons
from those fleeing the conflict from other parts of the country.Mary,
a mother of three from eastern equatorial — one of the richest parts
of the country, only recently devastated by the fighting — says
soldiers came to her ad hoc home in Juba the previous week, demanding
money."They came and took everything," Mary says. "They are saying
they look for weapons but that is a lie. They even steal the clothes
we are wearing to sell in the market. When they came they left me
standing in my underwear. They are just looting and raping. They rape
us in front of our children and husbands."NGOs distributing food and
other aid face a seemingly impossible task. Those displaced by the
conflict have now become hopelessly dependent on aid. Kids who should
be learning how to farm are now malnourished if not dying. The fabric
of the country is thinning out."Will you pray for us?" Mary asks. "We
know we are sinners and we are sorry to God. But now all the money is
going to one tribe and we are losing all our children. If you are not
Dinke, you can die. I voted for South Sudan. I believed it can be
better, but now I am wearing a dress my sisters gave me and they
collect money for water for our family.""I used to have a farm," Mary
continues. "I grew bananas and pineapples. We used to send food to the
markets in Juba. The people in my area fed the whole of Juba, now my
children have no vitamins and their bodies are swollen. The sisters
here are suffering so much but we are hoping God will not forget us."

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