The on-going conflict in South Sudan is a man-made disaster of an epic proportion. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that almost half of the South Sudanese population will have fled the country or starved by the end of 2017. Another disturbing fact is that a large number of women and young girls living in the United Nations Protection of Civilian Sites (POCs) in South Sudan have reported having being raped or experienced some form of sexual assault during the war according to reports by various human rights organs. The economy is destroyed and it is dangerous for farmers to till their fields. Food is so scarce and food prices are so high that onions and other vegetables are cut into pieces for sale in the markets such as recently noticed in Yei County.
Despite this desperate situation, our political leaders across the divides neither take action nor listen to the clarion call by the citizens to show leadership and amicably end the violence. Rather, the warring factions have squandered every opportunity to end the war and save their people. The power struggle, failure of managing diversity, even at subnational levels, and lack of clear program for state and nation building, amongst others, have brought the country to a near collapse.
At this critical juncture, the South Sudanese youth will no longer keep quiet but push the leadership in order to address the deep historical grievances between its peoples and embark on nation building. South Sudanese need leaders that will lead, not rule them. The young people are particularly being used to perpetuate violence since 2013. As South Sudan Young Leaders Forum, our main goal is to “mobilise, inspire and organise South Sudanese Youth to work toward peace and a united prosperous South Sudan.
This is the message that the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum (SSYLF) is taking to the regional leaders, South Sudanese politicians, and the South Sudanese citizens over the next month as we visit Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan to share our views and listen to others to stop the war and restore stability.
At the political level, the recent call for revitalization of the peace agreement by IGAD Heads of State and Government is timely. However, the revived political process must be inclusive, with particular focus on youth. Before the upcoming negotiation, the SSYLF takes this opportunity to explore views from all walks of life that shall be of benefit to the peace process. But we can only succeed in this effort if other South Sudanese and regional leaders are willing to talk with, support, and join us in our call. The youth are better placed to unite and access their people and unite them towards ending the suffering in the country. Join us in forging the kind of a nation we aspire to create for the betterment of all, especially the upcoming generations.
About the SSYLF
SSYLF brings together young leaders from across South Sudan and diaspora to deliberate on the many challenges facing South Sudan. SSYLF members come from various ethnic and political backgrounds, including academics, church leaders, policy experts, lawyers, doctors, government officials, and civil society leaders at the forefront of peace building, reconciliation, and nation-building efforts in South Sudan. Visit our website (www.ssylf.org) for more details.