South Sudan remains an excellent case study of inherent human nature where ‘that which does not concern us, does not bother us.’ It is an example of a human conflict where perpetrators are from within the country and abroad. South Sudan, unfortunately, has faced chaos and political disagreements. Some would argue that the years when peace has reigned are fewer than those in which chaos has prevailed.
The youngest country in the world, having attained independence in 2011, South Sudan was thrown back into civil war only two years later. But most people would ask, what can the rest of the world do to mitigate misery in such a conflict? The answer rests in strength. Most parties including the United Nations have taken the neutral ground. They have avoided pushing either of the belligerents too far.
The effects of this hesitation are starvation, massacres, malnutrition, rape and displacement of people.
To shed some light on this conflict, we need to understand that it goes as far back as the 19th Century. During this time, the conflict did not pit the current warring sides. Instead, it involved the Nilotic peoples’ south and the predominantly Muslim and Arab north. Their differences were mainly trade related. After independence in 1956, the south felt isolated, and a civil war broke out. It ended in 1972, but peace did not last long. In 1983, the hostilities renewed and stopped in 2005. The two civil wars brought about a realization that the south would function better as an independent state.
Thus South Sudan was born as a country in 2011.
Political infighting and tribal animosity hold the general overview as the source of the current civil war.
But what is the way forward in easing this conflict?
South Sudan holds approximately 75% of all Sudan’s oil reserves. Sadly, the revenues from this resource all end up in the hands of a few, just like all other resources in Africa. These few control institutions in the country and their families live lavishly in Nairobi as the rest of the population suffers. As their country burns, they milk it dry for million dollar apartments, posh cars, and kingly lifestyles. Ironically, all this happens as the world watches and nods, doing nothing about it.
Unfortunately, this too is a human trait. As long as war criminals bring investments with them, why not be blind and deaf? Syria too has suffered a similar fate where vested interests of international parties have caused them to turn a blind eye to the civil war. It has become a case where nothing matters as long as there is a throne; even if it’s on a pile of corpses.
The way forward to end these atrocities involves more than just arbitration. Sanctions would be a start. The Kenyan Parliament considered imposing sanctions on South Sudan’s warlords who waged war from the comfort and peace of hotels in Nairobi. The US too has taken the sanction route before, but not far enough to bring an end to animosity. Such penalties, however, should be directed towards individuals and not the state as a whole to avoid hurting the population.
In conclusion, forcing warring parties to the table by crippling their finances only solves half the problem. Reconciliation and justice too, play a hand in helping heal old wounds. However, it will only happen when the world wakes up and feels the pain of the millions of victims.
Photo credit: flickr.com/people/64749744@N00, wikipedia.org