Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 9 April 2017

Shameful indicators of declared famine in South Sudan

By Mohamed M. Yassin

South Sudan again, yes again tremendous suffering is happening in South Sudan, the newly independent African country is dragged again into useless civil war causing famine though it has been a territory of protracted crises. The South Sudanese people have been facing enormous challenges of survival for decades and decades. In the recent history, the South Sudanese people have witnessed the ugly macro-tragedies of slave trade and assault on the its natural resources, of isolation due to the discriminative closed areas policies, marginalization and exclusion from development and self-governance in the post-colonization era, and currently significant part of the state is witnessing man-made disaster of declared famine.

The beloved South Sudan has been deliberately set aside from the sustainable development in terms of education, health, economic growth, sound social cohesion, durable sustaining infrastructures, and food and nutrition security. The vast majority of generations of South Sudanese have missed proper education during the epochs of these tragedies, and the few elites who escaped that gloomy disabling and dire circumstances found refuge in the Diaspora and camps and territories of displacement, where they at least managed to gain sorts of education and experiences. These elites and Diaspora could have achieved and contribute in retake the control of the developmental paths of their country, but often have been denied the chance to act so or even when given the chance, they fall in the corruption traps, misuse and mismanagement of the entrusted processes, this is the often proven case.

South Sudan is blessed, endowed and rich in its natural resources, it is an under-populated country of estimated twelve million inhabitants owning millions of livestock and surrounded by huge forests and incredible natural eco-systems in the Sudd swamps and extended natural parks very rich in fauna and flora embedding invaluable biodiversity. The South Sudan is very rich in terms of fertile and virgin lands and crossed by numerous rivers and natural streams, which are an important part of the Nile Basin system.

The South Sudan is a landlocked country depending on neighbouring countries on its trade and communication with the external world. The deprived people of South Sudan are walking on an underground wealth of oil and minerals. The crude oil is finding its way to the export and international markets through two main pipelines stemming from Unity state and Upper Nile state, passing refineries in Khartoum and Port Sudan and ending at the Red Sea export outlets. The country is blackmailed in its oil export and trade processes by multinational oil operating agglomerates, colluded officials, corrupted systems and subsidiary networks. The Sudan is imposing unjust transit tariffs despite the fact that the pipeline, refineries and all the related infrastructures have been built and erected from the very resources of the South Sudanese oil, what an astonishing consented robbery?.

Doubtless, the famine is a terrible emergency and the hungry vulnerable humans are facing death or live question, the situation does not tolerate waiting lists or queues, the children, elders and all there are in urgent and desperate need of rescue, and this dire situation is aggravated by the ongoing insecurity and instability generated by the successive insurgencies and inter-ethnic or tribal assaults, which are, in most of the cases, stimulated by the traditional enemies of the South Sudan people or connected stakeholders who are benefiting from this confusing situation.

South Sudan independence is obtained by the people of South Sudan in particular, people of Sudan and the assistance of friends from all corners of the globe, following the South Sudanese massive vote in the referendum, which is a consequence and dividend of the comprehensive peace agreement between the warring government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s liberation Army/Movement. The creation of sovereign South Sudan state is a process witnessed, blessed, endorsed, assisted and recognised by the United Nations, the international community and regional bodies and it will be imperative for all the engaged stakeholders to accompany this process to full completion.

The responsibilities to protect the vulnerable South Sudanese and consolidate its fragile state is a collective moral obligation, no one is exempted and allowed to stay in the indifference square, especially under the current emergency situation of recognised famine and echoed appeals, cries, desperations to save the affected people. Here we are in front of basic human right to live, the human right to food and alimentary sovereignty; here we are dealing with sovereignty and dignity of people and not a sovereignty of the government. We are in front of moral obligations to accompany the transformational process in South Sudan and Sudan and abandon the indifference in a world where there are plenty food and nutritional elements sufficient to leave no one behind. We should shoulder the responsibilities of advancing the human and humanitarian sovereignty and dignity of the people and citizens rather than observing the political and military sovereignty.

Institution and moral entities should rupture the silence and act on the ground to rescue the starving people before their vanishing, and then is no need to cry over the loss of people and decrying the suffering when we can prevent it, stopping the conflicts and allowing and availing the humanitarian assistance, which is possible and that should not be blocked or restricted in the name of governmental sovereignty. Hunger is terrible, it hits hard, and it will be simple to deeply understand it in the case of lack of food and water everywhere by everyone at any time. There is no understandable rationale in successive occurrence of famine in our times, what is needed is known but not actionable in the case of South Sudan, lands are abandon and fertile, rains and water and seeds are available, farmers and farming are lacking due to multiplicity of factors, and that is possible to cure. Seeing a lot of people, mothers, children and elders malnourished, starving stimulate bitterness, hatred, fear, despair and induce more conflicts, fighting and demolishing of socio-economic fabrics, and deepening of the existing extreme poverty.

The repercussion of famine is huge and goes to years and years. Famine is a shameful manifestation of injustice and dramatic denial of the peoples’ right to food and deprivation of dignity. To combat famine, we should not stop at the declarations of emergency and fill the media with its news, almost most of the people in locations where there is plenty food cannot understand what does dying of hunger mean, maybe that is the reason why they are remaining indifferent. We should not stop at showing people’s protruded ribs and the emaciated children, just for fundraising, and then sending modest food ratio to be thrown over the heads of the hunger, but we should seek sustainable and durable solutions while rescuing those who are experiencing the declared, hidden and deliberated hunger in Sudan and South Sudan in particular.

Mohamed Yassin Department of Agro-food, Environmental and Animal Sciences (Di4A), University of Udine, Italy, e-mail: yassintowers@gmail.com