The year 2012 saw a sharp increase in violence and fighting in South Sudan. The month of April saw the height of it, with all round fears of a full blown war between South Sudan and Sudan. As most news reports will inform you, the clashes stem from demarcating the disputed border regions, the amount South Sudan should pay to use Sudan’s oil pipeline of Sudan, Abyei region claim, accusations of supporting rebel groups and the difficult situation of refugees on both sides. In addition to these, there is the complicated and rich historical context these disputes take place in…
Despite the UN call to end the fighting and with peace talks that have ensued, in May there was continued bombing in certain border regions of the South Sudan and Sudan border areas to the outrage of the international community. These developments beg the question: will fighting and violence flair up again? Is an all-out war inevitable considering the history and strong economic implications of the current situation? Will the peace talks lead to peace between the Sudans?
This question is difficult to answer of course, if only we could predict the future accurately. The general opinions in South Sudan differ: some saying war will not happen, others saying border regions will continue to clash for many years, while others predicting that it is only a matter of time before the patience for peace talks run out and a war ensues. What do the people of South Sudan hope for? Is there hope in South Sudan?
Many almost ‘want’ the war, with deep seeded anger towards Sudan and not wanting the Sudanese to profit in any way from South Sudan’s riches. Some want peace, to finally establish a peaceful nation that requires so much attention and effort to its development. The shocking census seems to be that most are ready to return to war, and were not shocked or phased by the idea that war may come again at any moment. These aspects do not take into account another aspect of this complicated conflict: the tribes and different ethnics groups in South Sudan. With countless different ethnic groups, it is a well-known fact that many do not get along; even the new nation formation cannot bridge that gap so soon.
In HealthNet TPO’s operational areas, the situation has returned to ‘normal’ with regard to carrying out activities. In all counties we work in, the situation is secure enough to be operational as before, exercising the usual caution and continuing implementation of out our standard procedures of preparedness. Additionally, remembering that security is the responsibility of everyone, not just the security focal persons or procedures. We operate under the hope that peace is imminent for South Sudan, while we continue to support South Sudan in its goals to offer Basic Services of Health to all.
Aletta Jansen – Organisational Development Officer at HealthNet TPO.
Background: Social geography and psychology (BA), international development studies (MSc). Currently Aletta is stationed in Wau, South Sudan, to support the HealthNet TPO field office. She also functions as the regional security focal person for three states (Western Bahr El Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap) where some 40 staff members are based and 6 bases are located.