News / Africa

People of Southern Sudan Face Bleak Future with Optimism

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +

Southern Sudan becomes the world's newest country on July 9. After more than 20 years of civil war, followed by a half decade of uncertain peace, the new country is starting virtually from scratch. The challenges are many, but the level of optimism is high enough to match.

It is a dramatic shift in mentality from short-term survival to long-term planning.

"We come from the bush with no human resources to build a new country, and therefore, we start from zero," said William Deng Deng, chair of the government's Southern Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission.  "This is a serious challenge because we have to do many things at the same time. First of all, we have to set up the apparatus of the states: the security; the police; the military; and all that, and we have to also set up the diplomatic relationship with the world. We also have to set up the administration that was never there."

Deng Deng is in charge of training and integrating into society 150,000 fighters of the south's former rebel group, the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, or SPLA. He says it is a daunting task.  

Many former fighters are uneducated and need jobs. The new country's peace and security are at stake.

Joe Feeney, the head of the United Nation's Development Program in Southern Sudan, agrees.

"The most urgent thing is to get rule of law, to have community security so that woman can send her kids to school, she can go to the market without fear of being attacked, and if she is attacked, rule of law means that she can go to a local police station, she can report it, she knows there will be a court there to bring that person to trial if necessary," said Feeney.

With the exception of the Abyei and South Kordofan border areas, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement put an end to wide-scale fighting between north and south. But cattle raiding and other crimes persist.

Cameron Birge is operations manager for the World Food Program's Feeder Road Project.

"Security is still a huge factor," said Birge.  "The cattle raiding has a very large negative impact on a lot of these communities, and we have seen it in some places we have travelled to as well. It is also not just the cattle raiding, but also insecurity on the roads: banditry, robberies, things like that. It is still very prevalent in a lot of these communities. It keeps them from going to the fields.  It keeps communities on edge."

The lack of roads and other infrastructure compound the problem. The country has only about 4,000 kilometers of all-weather roads. Few crops and other goods make it to market centers.  Shortages of basic goods are also common.

International doners provided aid to besieged communities during the civil war. Now the government is trying to break that dependency.

"The food dependency - it is actually there. The government is trying their level best to look into that this relief dependency, there should be a transition, a transition from relief dependency to rehabilitation and development," noted Beda Machar Deng, Undersecretary of Agriculture.

Despite the challenges, there is a sense of optimism among many in Southern Sudan.

"South Sudanese people are very resilient and they need to be helped," said Deng Deng.  "With the support of the international community, we can overcome anything possible. There is no country without challenges. We have a lot of challenges, but there is no doom and gloom here."

That resilience is what the people of Southern Sudan will need in the coming months and years.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid