The world’s newest country needs help

| October 26, 2011 | 0 Comments
Thousands of people displaced by conflict in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan State, have sought refuge in an area secured by the UN Mission in Sudan.

Thousands of people displaced by conflict in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan State, have sought refuge in an area secured by the UN Mission in Sudan.

The world’s newest nation, South Sudan, was born on July 9 to become the world’s 193rd country after its people nearly unanimously chose independence from the war-torn nation of Sudan.
South Sudan’s population, mostly black, Christian and indigenous tribes people, has been at war — largely regarded as genocidal — with the mostly Muslim north whose power was centered in its capital, Khartoum, and in its president, Omar al-Bashir.
He is under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
In 2008, the chief prosecutor of the ICC told the court: “The most efficient method to commit genocide today, in front of our eyes, is gang rape, rapes against girls and rapes against 70-year-old women. Babies born as a result have been called Janjaweed babies and this has led to an explosion of infanticide. Al-Bashir is executing this genocide without gas chambers, without bullets and without machetes. The desert will do it for them. Hunger is the weapon of this genocide as well as rape.”
In South Sudan, more than two million people died in the conflict; more than six million people fled their homes. In Darfur, more than 200,000 died and millions became refugees. Violence continues and both sides are in conflict over control of Abyei, a strategic town near disputed oil-rich South Kordofan. A UN report released in August documented atrocities it alleges were committed by the Sudan Armed Forces and allied paramilitary forces in this region. It estimates that at least 200,000 people were killed, injured or forced to flee between June and the end of August.
South Sudan’s departure was not welcomed by Sudan. About half of Sudan’s GDP and almost all of Sudan’s exports had been based on oil production largely in the south — with 85 percent exported to China. South Sudan will pay substantially for use of Sudan’s pipelines.
The new nation may be rich in oil and may possess an abundance of natural resources such as gold, copper, iron, and vast land for agriculture. Yet it is poor in almost every other aspect of development. It faces, as a new nation, the overwhelming shortages of food, water, medical supplies, gasoline, shelter and jobs that it has suffered for years.
It does not lack passionate supporters and international champions (most prominently, actors Don Cheadle and George Clooney).
Justin Laku, born in South Sudan, is a Canadian citizen and founder of Canadian Friends of Sudan and the University of Ottawa’s Friends of Sudan internship program. The organizations’ active supporters include Maurice Vellacott, MP Saskatoon-Wanuskewin; John Weiss of Cornell University; and David Kilgour, former Alberta MP and secretary of state for Latin America and Africa.
Mr. Laku, who travels frequently to South Sudan, is working on his master’s in development studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa, and responded to Diplomat’s request for a ‘wish list’ for medical equipment and volunteers to help build a new nation.
His list includes: Dental and physiotherapy equipment, examination desks, child-delivery beds, manually operated hospital beds, mattresses, acute care beds, blankets, sheets, X-ray equipment, dual-head stethoscopes, The Mark of Fitness MF-46XL automatic inflation blood pressure monitor, blood pressure kits and cuffs, first aid kits, bandage wraps and tapes, 4½-inch penlight, 3 ½-inch reusable thermometers and digital thermometers in plastic sheath, tweezers with magnifiers, surgical gloves, syringes with needles, hypodermic needles, operating room equipment, tropical medication, wheelchairs and computers.
While medical equipment is important, he says, there is an even greater need for five ambulances to transport pregnant women to Juba Teaching Hospital. He also asks if the Canadian Medical Association would send surgeons — especially eye surgeons — and other specialists to provide tertiary care. “Three of South Sudan’s regional governments (the Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria States) have offered to provide visiting doctors with accommodations, food, transportation and security. Those interested in volunteering can reach Friends of Sudan through their website www.thefriendsofsudan.com.
South Sudan also needs science and English teachers at all levels. It welcomes textbooks, desks and chairs, as well as footballs and basketballs for homeless children.
The three regional parliaments need libraries to help the newly elected lawmakers with draft legislation and with law enforcement. “I do hope that Canadian parliamentarians will be able to support these initiatives to maintain rule of law, accountability, answerability, coherence, and the role of parliament in maintaining the constitution,” he said.
Mr. Laku said that the new members of parliament would like to establish partnerships and exchanges with federal and provincial legislatures in Canada. “We seek to exchange notes, share ideas and learn from each other’s experience to foster good democratic governance in Eastern Equatoria State to our mutual benefit.”

The Friends of Sudan
Suite 2108-415 MacLaren Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 2C8

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