The fragile peace continues to hold and peace talks are soon to begin again; but we seem no nearer to a permanent solution and a clear roadmap for moving forward in South Sudan. A recent report from The Sudd Research Institute provided this table of statistics.
I presume ‘security’ covers the military. The Rule of Law also attracts a lot of funding but its results are not obvious. What a stark contrast with the amount being spent on Education, Health and Infrastructure! What does this say about priorities?
But I think the most depressing statistics relate to girls deprived so quickly of their childhood and teen years.
In one recently published article it asserts:
In South Sudan 7.3% of girls in South Sudan are married before they reach 15 and 42.2% between the ages of 15 and 18. This is contributing to the large numbers of girls who are dropping out of primary school before the end of the eight-year cycle; while around 37% of girls enroll in primary school, only around 7% complete the curriculum and only 2% go on to enroll in secondary school.
The above is bad enough but the Sudd briefing paper also points out the wretched situation for mothers:
It is certainly not easy to be a young woman or mother in many parts of South Sudan. Sadly, boys and young men are not faring much better with many reports of their conscription by force into the army. There is so much that is unjust, unfair and that simply would not be tolerated in most countries. Yet the young people we work with give us hope. They still have the natural optimism of youth. Further, there are many wonderful people in this country trying to bring about change for the better – 32 religious congregations with their own ministries plus many congregations uniting to form Solidarity with South Sudan. There are also many NGOs and the UN agencies offering massive support.
The frustration is that we know we are mostly applying band-ands and rubber bands while there is a bigger, underlying malaise that we are powerless to address. The country is crying out for better leadership from within. We, ‘kawadjas’, cannot solve it from without but we can help. It will take time but we have to prepare the next generation of leaders by improving the education delivered in schools, the preparation of qualified health professionals, the development of initiatives in trauma healing and reconciliation and providing training in better techniques for agriculture. It is happening. I hope and pray that the generous donors of this world, who are funding this essential support, do not run out of patience.
The Catholic Bishops of South Sudan have spoken out:
This war is evil. As a people we must not be afraid to name sin for what it is, and we hereby name this war as a sin… How will the nation move forward if money is spent on weapons of destruction instead of roads, schools, hospitals and development activities? How will we establish a civilian democracy if the nation remains so militarised?… This war is about power, not about the good of the people. The aspirations of individuals and factions have led to a cycle of revenge killing… The nation needs to be salvaged from this sin.
I don’t think the truth can be expressed any more clearly that this.
– Br Bill