Monday, December 19, 2016 at 7:17 AM

South Sudan: Another Genocide Developing in Africa…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

In a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday, a special commission to South Sudan described the state of the country in the starkest terms possible. Atrocities like murder and gang rape are happening on an ‘epic’ scale, reported the commission’s chief, who warned that the world’s youngest country now ‘stands on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war.’

‘A steady process of ethnic cleansing is already underway in some parts of the country. We don’t use that expression lightly,’ said Yasmin Sooka, chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

(NPR, December 14, 2016)

The whole world seems focused on Muslims killing each other in Syria. Thousands demonstrated this by marching through London on Saturday to “Save Aleppo.”

ap_16322683459860-557a0b911244aeb634dc1068e94a1299c7c67d69-s800-c85Meanwhile, Africans are killing each other in South Sudan, and it seems the whole world couldn’t care less. To be fair, my title betrays the fact that reports of genocidal conflicts in Africa have become so commonplace, they now provoke indignant disgust as much as they evoke profound sorrow.

In fact, I lamented over a year ago the genocidal state of affairs developing in South Sudan, in salutary oblivion. And frankly, I can do no more to advance my concerns today than to reprise the commentary I wrote back then.

So here, in its entirety, is “Millions in South Sudan Eating Leaves and Grass … Like Cows,” October 29, 2015.

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For important context on this grazing tragedy, here is an excerpt from “South Sudan Descending into the Heart of Darkness,” December 30, 2013.

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pic1I joined the chorus of those heralding the birth of South Sudan as a new nation in Africa – fathered not by colonial masters but by Africans themselves. But I felt constrained to sound this cautionary note:

What looms, however, may cause the southerners’ Independence Day, which they will mark on July 9, to turn into a pyrrhic celebration…

I just hope and pray these southerners – who are composed of all kinds of black tribes – can avoid the kind of tribal conflicts that continue to beset so many other countries in Africa.

(“South Sudan Secedes,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 9, 2011)

Sure enough, their celebration was pyrrhic. Because here I am, less than three years later, feeling obliged to comment on South Sudanese cannibalizing each other:

South Sudan’s army fought on Sunday with ‘White Army’ ethnic militia, accusing rebels of mobilizing the force despite its offer of a truce to end the conflict in the new country.

Two weeks of fighting have left at least 1,000 dead and split the oil-producing country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan. It has also raised fears of an all-out civil war between the main Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups, which could destabilize fragile East Africa.

(Reuters, December 29, 2013)

Clearly there’s farcical irony (or is that tragicomedy?) in calling a bunch of black militiamen – who cover their faces with ash as insect repellant – a “White Army.” Given their look and haunting tactics, one would’ve thought “ghost army” would be more fitting. But I shall leave it to experts to comment on the socio-psychological legacy of colonialism their curious appellation reinforces.

President_Salva_Kiir_and_Ri-300x114Instead, I shall suffice to bemoan this prescient/foreboding lament I sounded six years ago – in “Politics of Corruption in Kenya,” December 31, 2007 – when Kenya was on the precipice on a similar tribal/ethnic conflict:

This sets up the all-too-familiar prospect of Africans resorting to tribal warfare to settle their political disputes… And those of us who are still hoping against hope for a political awakening in Africa cannot help but look on in despair as Kenya … descends back into the heart of darkness – where bloodlust gives rise to Idi Amins and Rwandan genocides.

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That was two years ago, folks. And I’ve written several commentaries bemoaning the same since then, including “South Sudan Continues Descent into the Heart of Darkness,” April 25, 2014, and “’Another African Famine?! Nobody Cares!’ Then Call Me Nobody,” May 2, 2014. Significantly, I ended the latter with this abiding plea:

I am truly humbled by the thousands of foreign aid workers (mostly White Americans) who, despite all of the challenges and frustrations, continue to march to the front lines to help combat everything from chronic poverty to the vicious cycle of tribal warfare.

Hence, I can never tire of doing what little I can to support them and keep the humanitarian work they do in public consciousness. And, in doing so, I hope you don’t mind my taking a page from my Mummy’s playbook by trying to guilt you into donating (as I do) to their organizations, like UNICEFUSAID, Doctors Without BordersUN World Food Programme, and CARE.

Therefore, it truly pains me that South Sudan continues to vindicate my worst fears – as this excerpt from a BBC Documentary “South Sudan’s Shattered Dream,” October 28, 2015, attests.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 5.32.56 PMAlmost four million people are facing severe food shortages, with thousands at risk of starvation, in South Sudan, in what has been described as one of the worst humanitarian crises.

According to a report published in October 2015, if immediate action is not taken, the country could face famine in a matter of weeks. Aid agencies are pleading with both government and opposition forces to respect the current ceasefire and give unrestricted access to the areas most in need…

It’s evening time, and Regina is busily preparing dinner for her family. I look into the pot to see what it is she is cooking and am astounded and shocked to find she is just using grass and leaves to feed her six children. It’s all she has.

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Not to mention that an international commission of inquiry into alleged war crimes found that both government and rebel forces are perpetrating systematic torture, mutilations, rape, and forced cannibalism against the country’s hapless, starving civilians.

The media are making much ado about the exodus of thousands of Syrians fleeing sectarian conflict. But they would have cause to make much more ado about the exodus of millions of South Sudanese fleeing ethnic conflict … if only chronic starvation did not prevent the South Sudanese from walking like the Syrians.

In truth, all I can say at this point is: God help the godforsaken people of South Sudan.

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screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-9-33-55-am

I will only add that former President Bill Clinton expressed haunting regret for doing nothing as years of ethnic cleansing developed into “all-out ethnic civil war” in Rwanda on his watch.

President Obama expressed similar regret on Friday: not only for doing nothing as years of sectarian strife developed into all-out religious civil war in Syria, but also for doing nothing as years of ethnic cleansing developed to the brink of all-out ethnic civil war in South Sudan. But at least Obama draws the appropriate moral equivalence between these two humanitarian catastrophes.

After all, far too many of those damning him for failing to intervene in Syria have never damned him for failing to intervene in South Sudan … or anywhere else in Africa beset by similar humanitarian catastrophes.

That said, I’m all too mindful that regrets never saved anyone. But, given that he seems congenitally incapable of such feelings, President Trump is unlikely to ever express any if/when civil war breaks out in South Sudan … or anywhere else.

Related commentaries:
Another famine
Millions eating grass

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