As part of a peace mission, a 13-member delegation of the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum (SSYLF) were in Addis Ababa over the week holding talks with officials from the African Union, representatives of the diplomatic corps, the media as well as regional leaders from the Inter Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD). Members of the non-partisan forum, formed early this year to defuse tensions and broker peace and reconciliation across their country, had also been on a similar mission to Nairobi and Kampala.
The young leaders, according to the African Union (AU), were selected to represent the group in regional consultations. They include leading academics, church leaders, policy experts, youth leaders and civil society leaders at the forefront of change in the country. The regional consultations have also involved meetings with the South Sudanese diaspora as well. The SSYLF delegation has been conveying a message from the youth under the theme of “#CURESouthSudan” – a call to action for the next generation of South Sudanese.
At a presser here, members of the forum stated that the war in South Sudan had caused immense suffering, and it was time to say enough is enough. According to Beny Gideon Mabor, a lawyer and South Sudan’s Human Rights Commissioner, it is possible to see more than half of the country’s population flee due to the ongoing conflict.
Famine-stricken South Sudan is on the brink of “total collapse”, Mabor pointed out, adding that the war has left thousands dead, not to mention loss sustained by the economy. The galloping inflation that hovers around 830 percent, and farmers no longer able to work in the fields, are some of the critical issues that impelled South Sudanese youth not to remain silent any more, according to Mabor.
Carrying the message of peace, members of SSYLF have been touring the region for a month now. They said that they have put their political and ethnic differences aside and have formed a civil society forum that intends to organize and mobilize the youth for peace and stability. Fed up of failures by IGAD as well as theirs, the youth have underscored the need for a home-grown solution and, for that, they say they will engage a cross-section of the South Sudanese society.
SSYLF brings together more than 70 South Sudanese young leaders drawn from 20 ethnic groups as well as members of the South Sudanese diaspora residing in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.
By Birhanu Fikade