July 28, 2021

The 400,000 specters that haunt South Sudan’s sacked dream

A country of one’s own: it was the very simple dream, but apparently inaccessible, of part of the unhappy citizens of a nation, then the largest in Africa, Sudan. Originally from the South, the latter could decently consider that they would never be full citizens, as they had anticipated even before the birth of modern Sudan, which became independent in 1956. Ten years ago, the history finally seemed to smile on them: on July 9, 2011, southern Sudan became, by securing independence, South Sudan, the youngest state on the planet.

This semantic shift promised a lot. To put an end to what the southerners had experienced in Sudan, between racism, marginalization and extreme violence, in an almost continuous state of war. After a first conflict (1955-1972), the second civil war in this part of the country lasted more than twenty years (1983-2005) and resulted in the death of two million people.

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At the end, there was therefore the promise of a solution, in the form of a nation: a peace plan, signed in 2005 between the southern rebellion, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (APLS), and the power of Khartoum, had opened a period of transition, leading to a referendum of self-determination, leading directly to secession, accepted with transports of joy by the southerners (more than 98% of yes in the referendum). Then independence.

This new country, of course, worried for many reasons: relations with Sudan, cut off from the south where most of its oil reserves were located, seemed to be under tension, or worse. The lack of infrastructure in a region in conflict for half a century and the dictatorial methods of the rebellion were other risk factors. We hoped they were manageable. “We”, that is to say the countries which had both supported the SPLA and adhered to the idea that the creation of a nation was the solution to many evils: the United States, in all first, but also Norway, the United Kingdom and neighboring countries such as Uganda.

“Hunger as a weapon of war”

Ten years later, the new country seems broken. Reports, such as those by Global Witness and The Sentry, have shown the extent of the looting carried out by its leaders, a reality that pales in the face of the extreme violence orchestrated by the latter. A civil war erupted in South Sudan in December 2013. It has since claimed 400,000 lives. Massacres have been committed on an ethnic basis, by armed men attempting to exterminate representatives of other groups. A first agreement, in 2015, was swept away by fire, crimes, the stranglehold of military officials on land. A second, called “revitalized”, was signed in September 2018 and is holding out, for whatever reason, while waiting for a spark to rekindle the fire, while floods and swarms of locusts have further accentuated the disaster created by all. coins by men.

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