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William Lambers' op-ed column about South Sudan, parallels to the War of 1812, and transitioning to lasting peace
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Last summer fighting erupted between South Sudan and Sudan over the disputed territory of Abyei. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile fighting is raging. U.S. Ambassador Princeton Lyman says "conflict has been raging there since last May, arising from issues never fully resolved in the civil war because people in those states, particularly in the Nuba mountains, fought with the South."
There is also internal conflict in South Sudan between rival tribes, the Lou Nuer and the Murle, that has displaced many thousands of people in the Jonglei state. These two tribes have repeatedly attacked each other over the years through cattle raids and kidnappings. The scale of their battles though has risen substantially in recent months.
A DEADLY RIVALRY SOLVED
In May a peace conference is set to begin to deal with this deadly rivalry. Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, head of the Peace, Reconciliation, and Tolerance in Jong-lei Committee says, "I am expecting everybody who loves peace to participate in this process because we have lost so many people. I hope everybody will come, sit together, and try to find a lasting solution for the problems."
There is an initiative underway to collect the guns that have proliferated in Jonglei and plans for a buffer zone between the Lou Nuer and the Murle to help transition to peace.
Deng Bul says, "It is important for all citizens not to carry arms because the arms are tempting [people] to unnecessary actions. If we want to have development in Jonglei, we must make sure that everybody is not carrying a gun."
South Sudan desperately needs its own peacemakers before it's too late. The internal and external conflict has harmed the region's food supply. Drought has also struck. These two elements, combined with pre-existing poverty are creating a hunger crisis approaching famine. The U.N. World Food Program, which relies on voluntary funding, says nearly
South Sudan needs the United States and others to stay with them during these rough waters as it tries to build a road to peace.
As we mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 students and other citizens can take time to reflect on the peace with Britain that emerged from the ashes. This learning adventure in American history can also offer a way to connect with South Sudan. How can this newly independent nation also build its own road to peace?
For what the governor of Ohio, Thomas Worthington, proclaimed after the War of 1812 rings true. Worthington said we must seek the day, "when bloody wars engendered in pride and wickedness, and prosecuted in fury and unrighteousness, shall forever cease, and when every human being, in the true spirit of humanity, meekness, and charity, shall do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with his God."
AN INDEPENDENT NATION'S PARALLEL PATH TO LASTING PEACE
William Lambers is the author of "Ending World Hunger and the Road to Peace."