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Africa Day Call to Action on South Sudan


In this April 3, 2017, photo in the Imvepi camp, South Sudanese refugees gather under a tree from which names are announced for those allocated a land parcel from the Ugandan government. The civil war in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands and driven out more than 1.5 million people in the past three years.

On Africa Day Thursday, about 300 young African leaders appealed to African heads of state to rescue South Sudan's 2015 peace agreement.

The Archbishop Tutu fellows said in a letter to the leaders that the conflict in South Sudan poses serious national security threats to neighboring countries.

"We, the Archbishop Tutu Fellows ['Tutu Fellows'], have been following the events unfolding in South Sudan with great dismay. We felt it incumbent upon ourselves to write and urge you, as neighbors and key members of regional blocs, to leverage your relationships with political and military leaders on all sides of the conflict in South Sudan to revive a political process and chart a way forward for the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement," reads the letter addressed to "Your Excellencies," the presidents of Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Namibia and Sudan.

Problem for all of Africa

Jackie Chimhanzi, chief executive officer for the African Leadership Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, said South Sudan's conflict has become an Africa-wide problem.

"We felt that we needed to compel our leaders to act because we can talk about a peaceful Africa in 2063, yet we are not acting on South Sudan now, today," Chimhanzi said.

She said they purposely wrote the letter to the heads of neighboring countries because they have more at stake, adding, "the atrocities, and the war, actually those things threaten to spill over into neighboring countries."

Chimhanzi pointed out a number of Kenyan banks have had to shut down branches in South Sudan due to the insecurity, saying it's in their interest to work for peace in South Sudan.

The fellows urge the heads of state to deny South Sudan's political leaders access to amenities in their countries until they adhere to the peace deal.

Next generation of leaders

Chimhanzi said the Tutu fellows see themselves as Africa's next generation of leaders and therefore believe it's not right that "our current leaders continue to not hold each other to account, to support behavior that they know are not correct."

"It's time to be honest," Chimhanzi said, and to "speak to power, because such behavior is really not progressing the continent.

"We are watching 3.9 [million] people being killed, 4.9 [million] people are food insecure right now, there's famine, women and children are being raped; it cannot be right."

Chimhanzi calls the letter to the heads of state "a call to action."

The last of Japan's troops prepare to board a plane as they leave Juba, South Sudan, May 25, 2017. The departure marks the end of Japan's five-year participation in the ongoing UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
The last of Japan's troops prepare to board a plane as they leave Juba, South Sudan, May 25, 2017. The departure marks the end of Japan's five-year participation in the ongoing UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
     
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
     
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon

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