Sudan

Sudan: Growing anger over elusive peace dividend in the south

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KUAJOK, 21 May 2007 (IRIN) - Anthony Bol Madut, governor of Warrap state in Southern Sudan, could not hide his frustration when he met representatives of European donors on a visit to the remote poverty-stricken region.

"People are dying of cholera in Gogrial and we do not even have roads to take medicines to them," said Madut, emphasising what he considers the neglect of Southern Sudan since the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The accord formally ended civil war between the northern-based Sudanese government and former southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army.

Donors and the Sudanese government had promised to make available considerable resources to rebuild the south. There is, however, widespread anger in the region as people wait to reap what appears to be an elusive peace dividend.

To compound the situation, thousands of former refugees and internally displaced people are flocking to the south to join communities ravaged by poverty and lacking basic social services.

"This is potentially one of the biggest repatriation/return movements Africa would have seen in recent years," said Dennis McNamara, special adviser on internal displacement to the United Nations emergency coordinator. "Hundreds of thousands of people have gone back both spontaneously and some with the assistance of agencies like the United Nations, IOM [International Organization for Migration] and other NGOs."

Lack of facilities

Martin Riech, 14, who returned to Tarkwen village in Western Bahr el-Ghazal state from another county in the same state, where his family sought refuge from war in the 1990s, is so frustrated he sees no point in attending school regularly.

"The school is just a shack divided into two rooms," he said. "There is only one teacher and I have to walk two hours to get there." His family moved from Manyang county, where, he says, he and his two sisters went to a proper school.

"These people are voting with their feet," McNamara added. "What we are very concerned about is that hundreds of thousands of people are going back, in most cases to areas of Southern Sudan that have terrible problems and lack services for the existing populations.

"There are often inadequate water points, inadequate schooling and medical support. There is no real plan for economic development and livelihoods being put in place."

Tong Mayien, 48, his wife Achan and their two toddlers looked bewildered after climbing down from one of the lorries hired by IOM to bring them from Marial Ajit internally displaced people's camp in Wau town to Kuajok from where they would find their way to their village.

"We have not yet built a home, but my sister who returned earlier has promised to accommodate us," Mayien told IRIN in Kuajok. "We have land and we have been promised farming tools. If I don't receive the tools, I will go and find some work in the town to raise money to buy my own."

'Invest in the follow-up to peace'

Said McNamara: "Our appeal would be to the donors and UN agencies in particular to mobilise as quickly as possible recovery activities - post-humanitarian, pre-development essential services for this very poor population in an area of the country that has potential.

"There is [river] water, there is good soil available, there is no overpopulation in many parts," he added.

"The governor said: 'You invested a lot in the peace, but you haven't invested much in the follow-up to the peace'."

Appealing for more support for the government of South Sudan, which is struggling to reintegrate former refugees and those who were displaced by war, Britain's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Nicholas Thorne, said the international community was "fixated" with the crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan and paying little attention to Southern Sudan.

Thorne was accompanied on the mission to Southern Sudan by Borsiin Bonnier, Sweden's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, and Claudia Rizzo, counsellor for humanitarian and development affairs at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The government has also not been spared criticism for its perceived failure to make available more resources for social amenities, including schools, roads, health facilities and water supplies.

Banking on oil

"When you go to Juba, tell our government you went to Warrap and Warrap is lacking everything," said Madut.

Much of the blame is being laid at the door step of the Government of National Unity in Khartoum for its perceived reluctance to fully disclose what is being earned from oil exports. The CPA had provided for the sharing of oil wealth between the north and south.

"We are not sure about the level of petroleum production. We are not sure how much money they are getting," said Mark Nyapuoch Ubong, governor of Western Bahr el-Ghazal state.

He also criticised the World Bank-administered Multi-donor Trust Fund, created for the reconstruction of Southern Sudan after the war, for failing to release funds quickly.

"If we don't invest in basic support [for the people of Southern Sudan], the danger is that we go back into a humanitarian emergency cycle and that will cost even more - both in terms of human suffering and financially," said McNamara. "Southern Sudan is a success story waiting to happen."

jn/mw

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