‘The suffering in South Sudan should shame us all’ – Ex-UN rights chief

Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban with THE ELDERS

South Sudan, Africa’s 55th nation and the world’s youngest nation is suffering from an armed conflict that has been deepened by a famine and humanitarian crisis.

This according to Mary Robinson, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ‘should shame’ the world. She was head of the UN rights body between 1997 to 2002.

Her position was contained in a statement by ‘The Elders,’ – a group of global leaders pushing for human rights and global peace.

South Sudan is a young country, but its people have been consistently let down by their leaders who have been unable or unwilling to move away from conflict and personal enrichment at the expense of the nation.

“The suffering in South Sudan should shame us all. It is an affront to civilised values, and the longer the international community allows the conflict and human rights abuses to persist, the weaker those values become.

“As Elders we stand in solidarity with the people of South Sudan and will continue to press for peace and justice,” she said.

For his part, chair of The Elders and former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, bemoaned how leaders in South Sudan had let down the people while pursuing personal interests.

“South Sudan is a young country, but its people have been consistently let down by their leaders who have been unable or unwilling to move away from conflict and personal enrichment at the expense of the nation,” Annan noted.

According to him, allegations of war crimes and gross human rights violations committed by the government and armed opposition groups needed to be probed and perpetrators brought to justice.

He said the suffering of South Sudanese people was being prolonged by the warring factions. The Elders also expressed worry over what they described as the international community’s “paralysis bordering on disinterest in regard to meaningful conflict resolution efforts and financial support to humanitarian aid.”

Who are ‘The Elders’

According to their official website, ‘The Elders’ are an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights.

The group was founded by iconic anti-Apartheid leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela, they represent an independent voice, not bound by the interests of any nation, government or institution.

It is currently Chaired by Kofi Annan, with Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first woman Prime Minister of Norway as Deputy Chair of The Elders, other distinguished members include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Lakhdar Brahimi, Mary Robinson, Graca Machel amongst others.