South Sudanese refugees take reading lessons at the UNHCR camp of al-Algaya in Sudan’s White Nile state, south of Khartoum, on May 17, 2017. AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY
As the United Nations shops for $1.4 billion needed to feed about two million people in South Sudan, a country ravaged by sectarian violence and famine, Archbishop Tutu Fellows of the African Leadership Institute have urged key African nations to assist the world’s youngest country.
The Archbishop Tutu Fellows, of the African Leadership Institute, are a diverse group of leading professionals from 34 African countries working at the forefront of positive change on the African continent.
The Fellows said, in a letter sent to a few African presidents, that it was important for South Sudan’s neighbours and “key members of regional blocs” to leverage their “relationships with political and military leaders on all sides of the conflict in South Sudan to revive a political process and chart a way forward for the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).”
The letter was addressed to the presidents of Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan and South Africa. Also mentioned in the letter were the leaders of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Egypt.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013, just two years after its independence from Sudan.
While United Nations estimated that about two million people have been displaced in the country, tens of thousands of people have been killed since then, with 3.5 million forced to flee the country (according to the Fellows’ estimate), including about one million children, to seek refuge in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
The country also has declared famine in some areas and has warned that a million people are on the brink of starvation.
This ugly situation, the Fellows noted, should not be allowed to fester and said African leaders were best placed to provide solutions to the crisis.
“The notion of ‘African solutions for African problems’ emphasises the principle that we, as Africans, are best placed to address our problems in a context-specific and conflict-sensitive manner.
“As Africans, we cannot afford to let our continent’s youngest nation remain mired in another endless conflict, yet, we also recognise the inability of the country’s leaders to put aside their differences and act in the interests of their own people.”