A Response to The Crisis In The Homeland
This Group of Concerned South Sudanese in the Diaspora,
- Reaffirming our love for and commitment to our nation, the Republic of South Sudan, and all the communities who call it home.
- Recognising that our homeland is in the midst of serious crisis, the likes of which many had hoped never to face again.
- Affirming our condemnation of the violence that has seized our country and our heartfelt desire for a speedy resolution of the crisis through peaceful dialogue and a negotiated settlement.
- Acknowledging that a crisis such as we are currently experiencing is not something new to our homeland and its re-occurrence should be construed as a wake-up call to all South Sudanese both at home and in the diaspora.
- Conscious that many people have died and are continuing to die as a consequence of disagreements between leaders, and that the youth are losing not only their lives but the prospect of a brighter future.
- Acknowledging that we cannot place the blame solely on the shoulders of our leaders, and understanding that we are all in some way culpable by not proactively engaging so as to address the underlying currents and divisions that have led us to this crisis.
- Recognising that our community does not live in isolation and that the suffering, tensions and fault lines in the homeland are equally reflected in the diaspora.
- Accepting that, although our community is good at pulling together in times of crisis, the lack of a persistent organisational framework is a problem that inhibits our ability to quickly respond in times of need and to undertake sustained initiatives.
- Conscious that our community has been silent since the start of the crisis, but that talk alone fades quickly and that only action has a deep and lasting impact.
- Reaffirming our strict adherence to a neutral, non-political and non-partisan approach to all we will say and do.
- Resolves to not remain silent and to use whatever means and resources are available to alleviate the immediate suffering of our countrymen and women in the homeland.
- Resolves to rebuild the hard earned unity that the South Sudanese people are gradually losing, starting first with ourselves in the diaspora so as to be an inspiration for those in the homeland.
- Resolves to show our support for and solidarity with all community members who have lost loved ones, irrespective of tribe or ideological persuasion.
- Resolves to reach out to all other communities throughout the United Kingdom so as to ensure a coordinated and holistic diaspora response to the crisis in our homeland.
- Urges those in a position of leadership to take the following actions:
- Calm the situation down and to do all in their power to deescalate the tension and violence through a commitment to dialogue and a negotiated settlement.
- Desist from any and all incitement to ethnic hatred or the manipulation of our impressionable youth in the interests of political ends.
- Maintain as a priority at all times the safety and security of any and all civilians.
The following initiatives were raised and briefly critiqued by the participants. Further discussion will be required to develop these initiatives.
Initiative 1: Humanitarian Assistance
It was agreed that the primary focus must be on direct humanitarian assistance for all those in the homeland who have lost everything as a consequence of this crisis and are in danger of losing all hope. Working in coordination with foreign and indigenous aid networks, it was agreed that the diaspora in the UK is well placed to support the effort to provide food, water, and shelter and lifesaving medicines to all who have fled or are trapped in affected conflict zones.
Initiative 2: Message to the leaders back home
It was agreed that a message condemning the violence, calling for a speedy and peaceful resolution whilst demonstrating the solidarity of the diaspora should be sent to our leaders in the homeland. This will send a message of unity, not divisiveness and ideally should be hand signed by as many community members as are willing.
Initiative 3: Condolences for UN Mission Personnel
Two Indian soldiers were killed in the UN compound at Akobo defending our countrymen and women. It was agreed that a message of condolence from the Diaspora should be presented to representatives of the UN and the Indian High Commission in the UK.
Initiative 4: Social Media Campaigning
It was acknowledged that much unhelpful divisiveness originates from the international diaspora via social media. It was agreed that the London Community should throw its weight behind social media campaigns such as #MyTribeIsSouthSudan and #iChoosePeace and that all members should seek to present a conciliatory attitude in their online interactions.
Initiative 5: Personal Outreach
It was agreed that members of the community can reach out to their family and friends back home with a message of peace and reconciliation and making personal appeals for a grass roots deescalation of tensions and rejection of retributive violence.
Initiative 6: Media Management
It was agreed that the international media commentary is in need of a consistent message from those in the diaspora who might be approached to comment. Whilst it is appreciated that there are diverse views, any interaction with the media should emphasize:
- The need for dialogue and a negotiated settlement.
- A speedy return to a state of peace.
- The priority of the safety and security of all civilians and their property.
- The positive actions that the community is willing and preparing to undertake.
Initiative 7: Information Management
It was agreed that there is a lack of clear information about what is happening on the ground in the conflict areas. The community can pool their sources of information and ensure that first hand and corroborated information is made known. This will improve people’s awareness, peace of mind and ability to comment in a more informed manner.
Initiative 8: Messages of Condolence
Many members of the community in the UK are grieving for loved ones who have been caught up in the crisis and have either lost their lives or have been seriously injured. It was agreed that as a community, we should endeavour to pass on our condolences and show solidarity and support to our grieving members regardless of tribe or ideological persuasion.
The Voices of the Participants
Below are some comments from those participating in the meeting.
“I love my country. This thing is really touching my heart.”
“We are not taking sides. We are South Sudanese citizens.”
“What is happening is affecting me greatly. I can’t sleep at night.”
“As a mother, I am deeply troubled by what it happening in South Sudan.”
“There are those inciting our youth to kill each other.”
“I have lost some myself.”
“Let us come and join and talk as the children of one mother.”
“Why the confusion, why the disagreement, why the conflict? We used to say it was Khartoum. Now I don’t know why.”
“Don’t take arms against your brother; you will build your house with him.”
“We must send our condolences to those who have lost family members.”
“South Sudan needs healing, it needs time and our youths need education.”
“The problems are with us all and we all have to fix them, starting with ourselves here.”