Sat04192014

Opinion

Can one nation at war become two nations at peace?

For decades, the nation of Sudan has engaged in what has been called Africa’s longest civil war. 
 
 Judge Greg Mathis

For decades, the nation of Sudan has engaged in what has been called Africa’s longest civil war. The result: 2 million lives lost and millions of displaced people. Sudan is located in northeast Africa and is bordered by Egypt, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; it was, until recently, the largest country on the continent. In January of this year, the people of southern Sudan voted overwhelming for their independence and seceded from the north, forming a new African nation. This month, the results of that vote were made real. The world is now watching both North and South Sudan, praying the two nations can keep the peace and grow into strong countries.

The North of Sudan, which is largely Arab and Muslim, and the largely Christian South of the country, where the majority of the citizens are black, spent 40 plus years at war. The North has been accused of war crimes and of raiding the South for oil. A 2005 agreement, brokered by the Bush administration, brought a tense peace to the country. As part of that deal, the South was able to decide its own future.

Now that the South has gotten its wish, its government must work strategically to provide for its people. Currently, South Sudan, a nation with a population of 8 million people, has a little more than 120 medical doctors and just over 100 registered nurses; only 16-percent of the country has access to healthcare. Ninety percent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day, drinking water is limited and diseases such as meningitis, measles and whooping cough plague much of the nation.

The South Sudanese government has plans to attack these and other issues but acknowledges it will take the nation about 20 years to meet its goals. Though the South Sudanese must, as any nation, carry much of that load alone, other nations should support their efforts. Already, the U.S. has pledged $300 million to be used for development and infrastructure, along with $150 million in food aid. There is no way of knowing how much aid South Sudan will need over the long term, but this initial support shows the U.S. government supports the nation’s independent.

It is a relief to see the nearly half a century war between North and South Sudan come to an end. Like many oppressed people, the Southern Sudanese desired their independence so they could control their own fate. Let’s hope that Southern Sudan, now that it is no longer being victimized by the North, will grow into a strong nation, one much better off than it is now. We must also hope that these two nations work proactively to maintain the peace.

(To contact Judge Greg Mathis, visit www.askjudgemathis.com.)

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