Wednesday January 15 2014

Somalia should be a lesson to South Sudan

By Faridah Lule

Somalia was once an important centre for commerce. In 1991, however, civil war broke out when coalitions of clan-based armed groups ousted the nation’s military government. Despite interventions by the international community and various countries over the years, the conflict remains complex with little hope for a stable government and lasting peace.

Most of us understand the problem in Somalia; it has been caused by Somalis themselves, not outside forces. The cause of the conflict notwithstanding, the world should not give up on Somalia. Innocent civilians continue to die in the conflict, that is why the countries trying to restore peace in Somalia should not give up!

The Somalia crisis is one of the most deplorable catastrophes of our time – it may not directly portend visible economic plummets but in holistic terms, it is a shocker to mankind. Children starve to death, hospitals overwhelmed by patients, families disintegrated, and a once glorious country now turned into the wretched of the earth.

Press freedom has been completely disregarded; journalists are killed every other day; they are subjected to severe repression in their efforts to report on the conflict; they face death threats, harassment and arrests - many times on account on tramped up charges.

Since the beginning of 2007, nine Somali journalists have lost their lives covering clashes between the Transitional Federation Government Forces and various armed opposition and insurgent groups in the country. Reporters Without Boarders named Somalia as Africa’s deadliest country for journalists in its 2008 Annual report.

Today, Somalia shamefully stands on the global map as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Security statistical information indicates that the Transitional Government’s army and intervening Ethiopian troops have destroyed lives of tens of thousands civilians throughout the country through bombs and weaponry fire.

This must serve as a warning to the people of South Sudan that what is happening in the Horn of Africa can happen in South Sudan. Leaders in South Sudan should save the country from becoming another Somalia. It hurts to be forced to forced out of your own country to live as a refugee. Peace should be pursued.