Last month, the long-simmering dispute over the control of the symbolic oil reach towns along the boarder erupted in violence between north and south Sudan.
Hostilities between the two Countries erupted when South Sudan captured the important oil-producing region of Heglig from Sudan, which soon regained control.
Sudanese officials accused the South of using foreign fighters supported by insurgents seeking to topple the government in Khartoum, while South Sudan says that Khartoum is supporting militias bent on toppling the government in Juba. Both sides deny they are supporting rebel militias.
This crisis has emerged as a result of failure to address post secession issues; oil, border contested regions including Abyei and Heglig among others. Heglig hosts Sudan’s largest oil field and much of its total oil production.
The newly independent South Sudan has the majority of the former Sudan’s oilfields, while Sudan has the infrastructure – pipelines and a seaport – to get the crude out of the country. The South has threatened to build new pipelines via another seaport other than Sudan; so Sudan believes it got the short end of the stick in terms of territory and oil; and that it might miss out on its main source of income altogether.
Despite international calls for the two countries to cease hostilities with a “toothless” United Nations threatening to impose sanction on the two countries, tension remains high.
Tens of thousands of refugees have fled their homes into camps in South Sudan after being forced out of their villages by the fighting, with hundreds more making the trek every day.
It is estimated that over 350,000 ethnic Southerners remained in the North after an April 8 deadline for them to either formalise their status or leave Sudan expired.
The World Food Programme has designated the situation a Level Three emergency, giving it the highest priority for relief deliveries to help starving civilians before seasonal rains make the dirt roads impassable.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has appealed for more than $145m (£90m) from donors to help stockpile food and house displaced people before the rainy season.
Recalling our recent history, the recent announcement by Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces (UPDF) Gen. Aronda Nyakairima that Uganda will not hesitate to intervene if fighting escalates, and his advice to counterparts in Kenya and Ethiopia to take positions on the conflict must be seen in the context of war mongering because it has left communities in northern Uganda once again gripped with fear and anxiety.
Gen. Nyakairima accused Sudan of preparing the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels for combat with South Sudan and subsequently Uganda. Yet UPDF and American intelligence indicates that “the LRA has been reduced to less than 200 rebels, and are operating in the jungles of the Central African Republic, Congo and South Sudan.”
As unprecedented global attention on the LRA builds up aided by Invisible Children and other partners like Enough Project; the USA, African Union and United Nations joint forces continue preparing to launch a new 9,000-strong military offensive, yet people living in the region know that previous attempts to combat the LRA militarily have not solved the problem but have had a devastating impact on local people, prompting retaliations against civilians and dispersing the conflict across a much larger area.
To the people in northern Uganda, an all-out war between the two countries – sucking in regional neighbours - is extremely undesirable and threatens not only the fragile peace in South Sudan and that in Northern Uganda but also the booming trade opportunities enjoyed by Uganda and South Sudan.
If war does return, the worst humanitarian crisis could be too mild a term to describe the consequences, as was once supposed by Jan Egerland, the former United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Communities in the region know very well that the Uganda government failed to protect civilian populations and their properties from attack during the two decades of brutal conflict.
Equally, the UPDF, who were far more numerous than the LRA and have a constitutional duty to offer security to civilians, were themselves responsible for abuses against civilians and crimes against humanity – crimes some observers say met all the criteria and hed the hallmarks of the crime of genocide. The withdrawal of the LRA from Uganda in 2006 meant that the conditions that gave ground to the death of over 1000 people per week ceased to exist.
The removal of the LRA also meant that the UPDF deployment in northern Uganda has been scaled down, and the excuse to keep the entire population in northern Uganda in concentration camps became less “credible”; people have since returned to their homes.
On the economic front, according to official statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) as well as the World Bank, South Sudan is seen as Uganda's most important trading partner since it is our current number one export destination.
Vibrant trade between South Sudan and Uganda has supported hundreds of thousands of businesses in Northern Uganda, Kampala and other regions in Uganda.
A 2008 World Bank report titled: De-Fragmenting Africa, Enhancing the Recent Growth of Cross-border Trade between South Sudan and Uganda, shows that up to US$ 635m worth of Ugandan exports were sold into South Sudan.
Our appeal to the government of President Yoweri Museveni is “give peace in northern Uganda a chance,” because communities in this region have been humiliated and have suffered enough.
Instead of issuing war threats, Uganda should condemn the surge in border violence, urge the two Sudans to cease hostilities and begin to work towards a negotiated settlement regarding unresolved problems. By A Web design Company
By A Web design Company