Born in the unlucky generations of South Sudan

Photo: Reuters

By James Tot Mathiang

March 26, 2023 (SSNA) — There have been six generations of South Sudan who have been unlucky. These 6 generations of young people in South Sudan have been marked by civil wars, poverty, and instability. They face a future of limited educational opportunities and a lack of economic opportunities and have been pushed to the brink of despair. They have been robbed of the chance to pursue their dreams and have been forced to bear the burden of their country’s crisis. This is why it is so important to provide support to this population, so they can have a chance to build a brighter future for themselves and South Sudan. Over the past 6 decades, South Sudanese have been facing an unpredictable future. The three consecutive civil wars not only destroyed the lives of South Sudanese but also left them downhearted and with persistent PTSD. These generations have grown up in a war-torn country and have had to overcome adversity and trauma that no one should have to face. They need guidance and support to help them build the skills and confidence they need to create a better future for themselves and the country.

In the 1950s, South Sudanese rebelled against North Sudan demanding autonomy for South Sudan. In 1972, the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement was signed, and South Sudanese returned and laid down their arms, though a few South Sudanese rebels remained in the bush. The agreement granted the South Sudanese autonomy in terms of their social and economic development, as well as their political representation in the North Sudanese government. This autonomy was seen as a step towards eventual self-governance for the South Sudanese. The agreement was meant to grant South Sudan more autonomy, but the North failed to comply with the terms. This led to the outbreak of the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983, resulting in millions of deaths and displacement. There was not enough time for South Sudanese to resettle and put their children in school after the civil war ended. This left many South Sudanese without access to education or a means of providing for their families. As a result, many were still struggling to rebuild their lives and create a better future for their children. Consequently, the majority of South Sudanese were still illiterate during the second Sudanese Civil War. This lack of education and resources meant that they did not have the knowledge, resources, or networks to be able to prepare for the second civil war. This put them in a very vulnerable position, and the war only exacerbated their already difficult situation.

The Second Sudanese civil war which broke out in 1983, had a lot of negative and positive things. The negative effects included the displacement of millions of people, a significant increase in poverty and food insecurity, and a massive loss of life. Though, the war led to the independence of South Sudan and the end of the oppressive Omar al-Bashir regime. The civil war lasted for 22 years, and it displaced millions an estimated 2-3 million died as a result of war and war-related illnesses. The war also caused economic and social chaos, with the country’s infrastructure severely damaged. It also resulted in a massive refugee crisis, with millions of Sudanese fleeing to neighboring countries. The war has left a lasting legacy of political, economic, and social instability.  The war caused immense destruction and despair, and it seemed like the country would never recover. But, at the end, of the second civil war, the South Sudanese briefly rebuilt and move forward.

Positive: in comparison, the second civil war brought more opportunities to South Sudanese than the first civil war. The second civil war opened the door to more stable and improved economic conditions for individuals’ families living in the western world. It also allowed for greater access to resources, such as education and healthcare, that were not available during the first civil war. The result has been increased economic growth and improved quality of life for South Sudanese citizens. As the war continued, many South Sudanese who lived in neighboring countries as refugees were able to get resettled in various western nations. This provided a much-needed escape to those who were not able to find hope and stability in South Sudan. The resettlement of South Sudanese refugees also allowed them to access better education and job opportunities in their new host countries. This gave them access to higher education, better job opportunities, and ultimately a better quality of life. The opportunities provided by the second civil war were instrumental in improving the lives of many South Sudanese.

The South Sudanese who obtained credentials from western nations did not have an easy time finding employment after independence. This was mostly because of tribalism and nepotism which are normal practices in the country. Additionally, political instability has made it difficult for qualified Sudanese to return home. Tribalism and favoritism based on friendships, tribal affiliation, and blood relationships have led to a severe brain drain in the country as many of these educated Sudanese are forced to live and work abroad. As a result, South Sudan has been unable to make use of the skills and knowledge of its citizens. Engineers, doctors, economists, and scholars who were supposed to bring development to the country were not given a chance to utilize their skills. This is because of nepotism and tribalism. Nepotism and tribalism have contributed to the so-called “brain drain” in South Sudan, which has made many professionals unwilling to return home. This has had a significant impact on the country’s development and has culminated in a lack of skilled workers. Tribalism, nepotism, and insecurity have further perpetuated inequality and poverty in the country, making South Sudan difficult to progress. Furthermore, this has led to an even more depressing situation, with many of the country’s most talented individuals leaving for other countries to pursue better opportunities. This resulted in a stagnation of economic and social development. This has made it difficult for the country to attract investments, leading to decreased economic growth. This has resulted in higher levels of poverty and unemployment, further exacerbating economic and social issues in South Sudan. This has created an endless cycle of poverty, making it difficult for the country to improve infrastructure, education, and healthcare. This lack of resources has led to a decrease in the quality of life for many citizens, leading to a decrease in their overall well-being. Destabilization caused by conflict has only exacerbated this situation in recent years

Another unpredictable war caught the already traumatized nation on guard. The South Sudanese civilian population was once again forced to flee their homes as a result of a tribal war in 2013, which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The war was marked by brutal violence, displacement, and home destruction. Many people were left without food and medicine, and the death toll according to UN reports is estimated to be over 383,000 people. The war also resulted in a significant strain on the economy of the country. This conflict lasted for ten years and exacerbated existing ethnic tensions in the region. The civil war displaced millions of South Sudanese people and caused a humanitarian crisis that continues to this day. Despite the efforts of international humanitarian organizations to bring an end to the conflict, it has persisted for several years. Many of the victims have been displaced and are now living in refugee camps. The conflict has caused great suffering and widespread destruction.

The current situation in South Sudan is dismal, with hunger, ethnic violence, and disease afflicting all of its people, regardless of tribe. South Sudanese are hopelessly looking for a miracle to occur as the current peace agreement has failed to address the root cause of the conflict or stop South Sudanese suffering. International organizations and NGOs are working to provide food and medical aid, but the situation is far from improving. Without a lasting peace agreement, South Sudanese will continue to suffer from the effects of the conflict for years to come. The international community must step in and provide aid and pressure South Sudanese leaders to bring true peace to the country. It is essential for South Sudan’s people to have access to basic necessities such as food, health care, and education to improve their quality of life. Without intervention, the South Sudanese’ suffering will never end.  Instead of returning home and helping to build the nation, South Sudanese in the Diaspora struggle to survive. They help family members who have become refugees in neighboring countries and beyond. Without the international community, South Sudan’s situation is unlikely to improve. The diaspora people support both their families and family members at home.

In conclusion, South Sudanese, especially educated people, have become hopeless and lame ducks due to the three consecutive civil wars. Many have been displaced, some have been killed, and their livelihoods have been destroyed. This has led to a decrease in employment opportunities and an increase in poverty. The conditions have led to a decrease in the quality of life for many South Sudanese citizens. The ongoing conflict has disrupted the economy and caused a great deal of suffering for the people. With the lack of resources and employment opportunities, many educated South Sudanese have lost motivation and ambition to progress. This has caused a sense of helplessness and despair to spread throughout the population. So many educated South Sudanese die with unused skills and qualifications. This is because even those with world-class qualifications never get to use their skills to build themselves and the country.  To combat this, it is important to create resources and opportunities for South Sudanese to use their talents and education to benefit their futures as well as that of their nation. Only then can the cycle of helplessness and despair be broken.

The author of this article is A South Sudanese Canadian and he can be reached at [email protected].

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