|ABDUCTIONS and TAXES AMONGST FAMINE and CIVIL WAR in SOUTH SUDAN|
Eight South Sudanese staff members of Samaritans Purse have been abducted near Mayendit in Unity State of South Sudan, some 680km northeast of the capital, Juba. According to Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang: "The rebels attacked and abducted eight local staff from Samaritan's Purse and they are being held to ransom." However the rebels dismissed the claim of kidnapping as "propaganda". Samaritans Purse confirmed the abductions, but denied that any ransom had been demanded.
Meanwhile two Indian nationals working in South Sudan's oil fields in Upper Nile were abducted last week, according to Information Minister Michael Makuei. The kidnappers are demanding a ransom of one million dollars from the Chinese owned Dar Petroleum Oil Company.
Extortionist Visa Fees for Aid Workers and Missionaries
Compounding the catastrophic crisis engulfing South Sudan, the government of South Sudan has announced plans to drastically increase visa fees for foreign workers: "US$1,000 for casual workers, US$2,000 for blue collar employees and US$10,000 for foreigners working in a 'professional' capacity"!
Checkpoints, Looting of Compounds and Assaults
Missionaries and aid workers complain of massive beaurocratic obstacles and checkpoints where government, or rebel, troops demand exorbitant payments from aid convoy workers, the looting of compounds and rape and murder of humanitarian aid workers.
The outrageous demands for exorbitant visa fees for those who are taking enormous risks, at their own expense, to deliver desperately needed aid to those caught in the cross-fire of this colossal conflict is only going to result in far fewer aid workers travelling into South Sudan in the future.
Penalising Those Trying to Help
An official statement from Samaritans Purse: "The situation in Mayendit, South Sudan is a level-4 famine. We call on all the parties involved to immediately provide complete and unfettered humanitarian access in order to meet the needs of a starving population in order to save lives." All international aid groups have criticised the increased foreign visa fees, warning that it will only aggravate the disastrous humanitarian crisis in the famine afflicted country.
Deaths and Displacement in Civil War
South Sudan has been devastated by over three years of civil war with tens-of-thousands killed and more than 3 million displaced from their homes. Elizabeth Deng, a South Sudan researcher with Amnesty International observed: "The government and the army have largely contributed to the humanitarian situation and now they want to create profit from the crisis they have created!"
Worst Drought and Famine in Decades
Observers point out that the Horn of Africa is suffering the worst drought in sixty years. Over 20 million people in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan, are affected. The drought has pushed their fragile ecologies and economies into a catastrophic tipping point. Over 20 million people are hungry, malnourished and struggling for survival. 1.4 million Children in these areas are expected to die. Many of those who survive will suffer "irreversible physical and cognitive damage".
A Man-Made Famine
Analysts have been warning of this coming drought for more than two years. Relief workers have observed: "This shameful scale of starvation, disease and death, especially of children, women and the elderly, is unconscionable, because it is man-made."
Sources of Starvation
Some note that these problems are caused by unsustainable population growth, political corruption and violent conflict. "The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace." Isaiah 59:8
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Civil War in South Sudan
Genocide in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan