More than a year ago, a comprehensive peace accord ended over twenty years of fighting between southern Sudanese rebels and the government. Our feature series this week explores how southern Sudan, which established an autonomous government, is struggling to rebuild.
Riek Machar is the vice president of the government of southern Sudan. English to Africa reporter Angel Tabe asked him about the current situation regarding refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). “ We have signed tripartite agreements for the repatriation of refugees back to the country. Government has put in some money, and the UN is assisting for them to be received.”
Machar discloses that donor pledges to help with reconstruction and rehabilitation is slow to come in, so too is private investment. The reason: “ Sudan still under sanctions. This deters particularly American investors. But investors from Europe and the Arab world are coming. It is slow because the clauses for investment were not put in place quickly.” Machar encourages more investors to come discover the many potentials of Southern Sudan, which include resources in agriculture, mining, oil and lumbering. “ We need people to come in and create wealth, and make profit.”
About the money given to the World Food Program, Machar said this was to enable a specialized organization help the government realize some of its tasks. “ The World Food Program, during the war was involved in emergency reconstruction. It is our job to see that these roads are open, so we did give 30 million to complete a road which leads from one of the most important ports linking four states.” Other projects of immediate focus for the government include regional security, education, health and agriculture.
So far, Machar thinks his government is doing well, and life is progressing. “ All the ministries are functioning, the civil service has been established, schools are open, hospitals are being rehabilitated, Juba town and other two capitals have radio stations, the print media is picking up, ... the NGOs fill in the gap which the government is not providing for, while we are working closely with the UN agencies so that we do not duplicate.”
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