07 September 2015

Low-Profile Tragedy in South Sudan

Sparse news accounts are covering the humanitarian crisis that continues at a slow burn in South Sudan. A peace agreement was signed last week by the acting President Salva Kiir and the opposition is set to ratify this this week. The international community hopes that this high level activity means an eventual end to the atrocities happening throughout the fledgling country.

The ongoing unrest and conflict have destabilized the already unstable region resulting in tangential issues such as massive cholera outbreak, starvation, over 1.5 million internally displaced people, more than 700,000 refugees, and undocumented numbers of rape and murder.

Earlier this month, movement along the Nile River was restricted to the Upper Nile State. The International Red Cross has responded by airlifting food to hard-to-reach communities. You can imagine once large bags of grain are dropped in, there is still the logistical difficulty of carrying such food back to the village. Some people walked for more than 6 hours to reach the drop zone. If you are already nutrition deprived, such a challenge can be debilitating. A UN news account announced that food aid finally reached communities in the north of South Sudan last week, where difficulties have continued since March.

South Sudan appears only slightly propped up by emergency responses of several large and well-funded international organizations. What would the situation be like if these organizations were not involved at all? Would the world take more or less notice? Images that flood the internet about Syrians fleeing conflict across the Mediterranean Sea make me wonder what it takes to stop the ongoing conflicts? What it takes for the world to collectively say no - this is not happening anymore - agree to disagree and leave the people out of it, instead of the world collectively saying yes - this continues to happen - and it is not our problem.