To highlight one of Africa’s conflicts that have made more than a million of its population destitute refugees in Ethiopia, Atrocities Watch Africa has announced a new award – “Spoiler of the Peace Award,” to recognize the actors that have made it impossible to bring peace in South Sudan.
South Sudan has been in conflict since gaining independence from Sudan in 2011. This has prevented it from taking advantage of its oil-reach area with most foreign investments drying-up since and most of its population remains poor. The nation has also been struggling to pay rent at most of its diplomatic offices around the world, including in Addis Ababa.
According to the self-described non-partisan group, the award is to recognize those that “frustrate the country’s fledgling peace process and harm civilian lives.”
“The purpose of the Spoilers of Peace Awards is to hold accountable those who bear the most responsibility for prolonging the misery of the people of South Sudan,” said Dismas Nkunda, the founder and Executive Director of Atrocities Watch Africa. “These not only include individuals and entities who are part of South Sudan’s elite, but it will also include foreign individuals, entities, and governments who have aided and abetted in the stalling of South Sudan’s peace process, as well as catastrophic destruction and suffering in the country.”
Almost a decade old civil war, started in 2013 and the country has not had a stable government ever since. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, along with Pope Francis continues to host meeting among the leadership of the nation, including its opposition leaders, but there has been little progress.
Earlier this week, President Kiir pardoned one of its most famous political prisoners and IVY-league educated political prisoner, Peter Biar Ajax, who had been languishing in prison for his political activism without charge.
“President Kiir’s pardoning of Peter Biar Ajak and other political detainees is a step in the right direction, but that action does not absolve him and other elites for having illegally imprisoned peaceful political activists in the first place. Peace in South Sudan can’t happen until the spoilers are exposed and held accountable to South Sudan’s citizens,” said Dismas Nkunda.
“And the more, the peace spoilers are revealed, the better the international community can use their political and economic leverage to cut off their ability to wage war and profit from it,” she added.
The group will accept nominations until January 19th and victors will be “exposed for all the actions they have done to kill and harm civilians and frustrate the peace process, as embodied in the award, which depicts a hand making a mutilated peace sign,” the group said in a statement.