March 20, 2014 (SSNA) — The Ukraine and Russia’sproxy war has overshadowed South Sudan crisis as international community’s pressures are exerted toward Ukraine, Crimea. Ukraine political crisis started as people protesting and demanding their leaders to redirect country’s bilateral relations to Europe instead of Russia. Those demands were not met that resulted into peaceful protests that led to death of protesters. After that, political situation became uncontrolled of which Ukraine’s president stepped down and left the country to Russia for political asylum. However, Former Ukraine’s president was strong ally to Russia since the shared geo-political and cultural ties that led to the President of Russian ordered troops to occupied strategic areas of Crimea. Crimea’s political administration convened and endorsed controversial referendum that occurred on March 16, 2014. The ballot boxes for Crimea’s referendum were labeled in two ways; join Russia or remains part of Ukraine. Concerned were already raised in the media that types of questions asked in the ballot forms were confusing.
One-week proxy war has drawn a lot of media attention internationally compared to South Sudan crisis of 4 months where innumerous atrocities were committed and continue to be committed against civilians and properties. World leaders are not balancing their condemnations nor searching for equal concrete solutions to both crises. This is what makes me think that Ukraine, Crimea crisis has overshadowed South Sudan crisis where sizable number of South Sudanese civilians were displaced, killed and continue to be kills since warring parties are still engaging in an intensive war. Therefore, International community especially signatories to the Comprehension Peace Agreement (CPA) should uphold their moral obligations and responsibilities for two reasons: 1). That CPA is unfinished business and the case in point is Abyei’s referendum that was conducted in October 2013 but none of international community’s leaders had not acknowledged Abyei’s referendum. Furthermore, Abyei referendum was conducted on the basis of the CPA and African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHLIP) that gave the legitimacy. 2). That international community had work hard to achieved South Sudan’s independent in 2011 but it has not work hard to supports and sustains good governance, peace-building, rule of law, health care, education, food security and infrastructures that would have reduced level of frustrations among citizens. Moreover, South Sudan was a region that had suffered marginalization in the hands of Islamic regime in Khartoum that was favored by the British administration when they left Sudan in 1956 that left South Sudanese were in darkness for years.
Role of Canadians in South Sudan’s intra-conflict:
There are many ways Canadians’ government can assist in bringing peace and stability by pressuring and engaging warring parties to respect secession of hostility that they signed on January 23, 2014. An urgent intervention will be a show of solidarity and responsibility o our lineage country since we are always affected by what happened in our home country. Our dual citizenship is a “political tie” between the two nations; Canada and South Sudan. Our socio-economic tie comes with a responsibility which is a reason I expected Canadian government to play a crucial role in bringing a peace in South Sudan. We are emotionally and financially affected due to loss of love ones and relatives scattered into multiples displaced and refugee camps in neighboring countries where they required relatives’ financial supports aboard. Therefore, Canadian government should not underestimate the four months civil war that claimed thousands of innocent lives, displaced million people, and destructed physical infrastructures in three states Jonglei, Upper and Unity.
Ottawa’s Visit to Ukraine:
AS South Sudanese-Canadian, Ottawa has given an attention to one part of the region (Ukraine) that created an imbalance. Canada is known around the world as a caring nation that promote core values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, justice, development, humanitarian assistance. Last week, Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Honourable John Baird led the delegation to Ukraine to paid condolence on behalf of the Canadian government. This week (third week of March), H.E Stephen Harper, Prime Ministry of Canada announced his visit to Ukraine as reported by the media. I have got away with two things from that. 1). Ukraine, Crimea has overshadowed South Sudan crisis completely. 2) Our Canadian government is not attending both crises in the same way maybe because of political and economic interests; weak bilateral relations between the government of South Sudan and government of Canada, Ukraine-Canadian influenced Canadian government, and Ukraine diplomacy in Ottawa. All these are my intellectual assumptions but I would be interesting to know why Canadian government takes South Sudan crisis lightly? However, I should also admit that government of South Sudan Liaison Office that was closed in Ottawa two years ago did not shined well politically in Canada due to inability of individuals that were appointed to that office. There was no meritocracy benchmark followed because of nepotism and corruption that had led to hand-picked of unqualified individuals that failed to orient Ottawa toward South Sudan. Therefore, our government has felt the pains of weak bilateral and multilateral in internationally. It is an obvious that nepotism and corrupt have overridden national interest for individuals’ welfare.
Africa Union (AU):
The idea of Africa Union (AU) to established Commission of Inquiry headed by H.E Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; to investigate alleged human rights violations is an important step but premature at this stage. Timing is not right. Securing and containing a rapid killing of innocent people will be a first priority then followed by the works of Commission. If a commission of inquiry starts its work right now what human rights violations alleged are they going to investigate? AU should help IGAD to expedite peace in a timely manner, which reduce killing of innocent people and destructions of materials. Therefore, starting an investigation right now will beg questions that do investigation alleged of human rights violations stop current fighting? What accountability, reconciliation and healing AU talked about while innocent civilians are still dying in silent!
Ukraine and Russia’sproxy war has overshadowed South Sudan crisis as international community’s pressures are diverted to Ukraine, Crimea. Human suffering is the same regardless of what region. Saving lives is important step than prioritizing bilateral relations, political and economic interests. I am appealing to international community and particularly Canadian government to rethink their devoted attention to one region while South Sudan crisis somewhat left unattended. On the other hand, I appeal to AU and IGAD redouble their efforts to bring long-lasting peace before investigation of alleged human rights violations. Also, IGAD countries should remain neutral. Interfering in South Sudanese internal affairs put innocent people lives in a very vulnerable situation as thousands and millions are displaced from their ancestor lands. Current war is not people grievances but leaders’ interests. South Sudan’s territory should not be made as a theater of war by other interest groups to pursue their political and economic interests. Last but not least, IGAD countries should maintain neutrality by deploying impartial forces for the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) as well as Protection and Deterrent Force (PDF). Doing that will achieve a long-lasting peace, which will save innocent people lives and valuable properties if anything was left in three states of Jonglei, Upper and Unity.
David Mabior Atem Kuir lives in Canada. He can be reached at: [email protected].