FRONT PAGE OF NYT international section carries the picture and story that has my attention locked on it – click to see


Yes, South Sudan.

Remember, the 1991 massacre at Bor? Are we seeing this again? Sure looks that way.  Here is a hint (or really hard care evidence): in the last two weeks, more than 1000 have been killed.

If you are a frequent reader of GretaWire, you know that for about 2 years I have been frequently blogging about Sudan (President Bashir, Nuba Mountains, refugees) and South Sudan (world’s newest country – 2011.)  Chances are that YOU know more about this region than anyone else – more than journalists or your friends and family.  Chance are you have been wondering when the area was going to explode. This area of the world has not been on everyone’s radar screen despite the most incredible atrocities – yes, genocide.

And now? In the last two or three weeks it has gotten worse.  3 weeks ago it was harder to imagine that the region could get worse for so many innocent civilians but it has.

Now South Sudan is gripped in civil war and thousands and thousands of refugees are fleeing for their lives.  Humanitarian groups that had been trying to help the refugees from Sudan that took refuge in South Sudan have now themselves fled South Sudan or face a real risk of death.

Because the world has long ignored the problem of this region, we have refugees (from Sudan) on top of refugees (now South Sudan.) This does not just impact the people now — this crisis will impact generations. Just think of all the children who are born ‘on the run’ — stateless, no record even of their births…no education..and always living in fear – fear that their own government will kill them. And the fear? it is not irrational. Chances are the children have already watched soldiers and rebels slaughter adults and other children.

Is this really something we can ignore? And for how long? It sure does make the petty name calling political / media squabbles look bad, doesn’t it? Or how about the nasty and snarky gratuitous comments people post about each other on the internet?

I have been to these areas of the world…seen the crisis with my own eyes. I know that by posting pictures and video here on GretaWire I have taken you to the region so that you, too, do know what is going on and feel the outrage that I do.

I suppose the fact that South Sudan is loaded with oil may now draw the attention of the world. Once we stop feeling the flow of that oil you know nations will pay attention. Even if USA does not directly consume the oil from that region, when the others who do get their oil from South Sudan start going to our oil suppliers and running up the price our suppliers charge us, we will feel it.

No, I am not suggesting we can and or should be the police of the world but this crisis was obviously going to happen ….everyone should have seen this one coming (I know YOU did and anyone else who has read even one article about the region) and taken more aggressive diplomatic actions to try and prevent the atrocity that is now seizing the area.

What went wrong? Money poured in after the new country was created but was it spent wisely? did we think how to address the real needs which was the years of internal conflict? Or did the world just write a check and hope for the best? write a check for a region saturated with corruption?

What went wrong is that we did not think it through – we did not help guide the country into creating a ‘reliable structure for settling [decade long internal] conflicts. You tell me, what is the point of giving money if it is not given wisely, towards a smart solution? Do you really just give money to people at war with each other? or do you give money with a structure to get them permanently at the table with each other, as difficult as that may be?

Here is a paragraph from NYT article that identifies what may be our failing:

“….To help this fledgling nation’s chances, international donors like the United Nations and the United States have pumped in billions of dollars of aid, hoping to create a viable country from one of the poorest places on earth. But what has long been missing, analysts say, is any reliable structure for settling conflicts in a way that would keep the new nation from spinning into a civil war of its own…”

And no, there is no easy solution – it might even be impossible to solve – but how can our conscience be clean when we are not at least trying our hardest? or at least making it part of our dialogue? are we too busy taking swipes at each other?

PS – In some ways it feels too late…but it is never to late to help others.

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