As we lead our lives here in Australia almost oblivious to the heartache of poverty, political exploitation and tribalism we miss the opportunity to understand, serve, and appreciate the simple gifts of life.
South Sudan is currently facing a man-made humanitarian crisis.
Five years ago South Sudan found independence and become the world’s youngest nation. Full of hope and with every opportunity for a prosperous future, the nation celebrated its victory after a decade-long religious war that saw the death of thousand and misplacing of hundreds.
Today the nation faces a different type of war, one that was created out of political conflict which has seen the use of child soldiers and tribalism to keep its hatred and flames burning.
The raging violence has seen a massive displacement of civilians, dire food shortage, and ongoing slaughter of man, woman, and children.
Imagine a moving truck full of young children as young as 2 years old covered in dust, hungry and thirsty from day’s long journey.
They are confused, robbed of their innocence and officially marked as orphans in the midst of a civil war that holds no mercy for human life.
Over 5 million people are in need of aid, and more than 6 million are facing severe hunger.
“What has happened here is unforgivable. The current situation cannot be resolved quickly because the people who are in power are the reason it continues. We have nowhere to truly call home now.” Said Albino a man who lost his home to the civil war.
In December 2013, political infighting erupted into violence in the streets of the capital, Juba, after South Sudan’s president accused his vice president of an attempted coup. Since then fighting between the two factions of government forces loyal to each soon moved to Bo, and then to Bentiu which are cities within South Sudan.
Violence spread across the young nation like a wildfire, displacing 413,000 civilians in just the first month of conflict. The fighting is currently active and unfortunately has become more brutal.
Regardless of the many attempts for peace, the war continues to be fused and civilians have become the main target of the war.
Simply, this war has proven the tribalism has become intentionally or unintentionally the driving factor of the civil war and the lack of mercy and genocide amongst South Sudanese people. On top of these unpredictable attacks, the country’s economy is in crisis – the South Sudanese pound has declined in value, and the cost of goods and services has skyrocketed.
Food prices are at a record high. Due to these conditions civilians have grabbed whatever little they can, most walked to neighbouring countries in search of safety, but most are trapped inside the warring nation.
Running may have been the only option for many causing these fateful civilians to lose, loved ones, their homes, their land and along with it their identity.
Violence toward civilians has been widespread, including targeted attacks, kidnappings, and murder.
Chan Jok Diu is a 24-year-old man who was killed during this civil war with his father and close friend. The story of Chan is that of complete innocence, he was studying as an exchange student in India to become a geologist.
You see South Sudan needs young people like Chan to learn and be the next generation that takes the nation into greater success as the nation does have economic abundance.
On a short trip back home Chan was killed whilst collecting the body of another relative. He was shot three times in the head and twice in the chest. So was his father who was well known here in Australia and SBS had broadcasted his death during its news segment in July.
It might appear as though the war is miles away and not of the concern of Australia but something not many people know about it is that almost every week since the war has started someone of South Sudanese background has attended a funeral.
Have you ever lost count of the amount of deaths in your family this year? This is the reality that South Sudanese Australians face.
Martha Tiop is the mother of Chan and wife of Jacob Diu. She is distressed of the heartache and loss of her loved ones and has been forced to relocate with her children to North Sudan.
“I have not slept well in so long. I still see my child when I close my eyes and I fear I am going insane. I have many children and I just wish this would be over so my children can mourn and move on from this. We are relying on our family overseas for support as we cannot work for ourselves.” Ms. Tiop said.
Ms. Tiop has family living in Brisbane and they continue to be the help she needs sending whatever means they can.
However, it is a social issue on its own for a refugee living in a first world country now trying to save a refugee living a third world country.
Where does the cycle end?
Without peace and support, families will remain in hiding, there will continue to be a lack of economic growth, families will die of starvation, malnutrition, disease as the government continues to make a profit through corruption.