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George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

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George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by silly girl on Tue Feb 25 2014, 16:18

Clooney: New Lost Boys of South Sudan


The only activity in the hospital compound in Bor, South Sudan, these days is the dozens of vultures circling overhead. In mid-January, rebel forces swept into the Bor hospital, killing everyone that could not escape. Underscoring its crime, the group collected and burned the bodies of its victims. All that remains are bloodstained shoes, charred medicine vials, and overturned wheelchairs. Scorched patches of earth show where people were set on fire. When local residents are asked who was responsible, the answer is always the same: child soldiers of a militia called the White Army.

In the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of boys from the southern part of Sudan were driven from their homes and forced to trek hundreds of miles in search of sanctuary. Many were press-ganged into military service. They crossed two international borders, faced surreal life-threatening challenges, and eventually given asylum by the U.S. government, landing them in places like Phoenix, Atlanta, and D.C. They came to be known as the Lost Boys.

Today, renewed warfare in South Sudan is creating a new generation of Lost Boys. Two and a half years since winning its independence by way of a bloody, decades-long struggle strongly supported by the United States, rebel and government forces with their allied militias are recruiting young boys into their ranks. Merely two months into this new war, and at the direction of their "leaders," these boys have committed numerous atrocities. They have also borne witness to monumental crimes that will only deepen cycles of vengeance and child soldier recruitment.

Since we witnessed South Sudan's 2011 independence referendum, the children of the world's newest country have received no peace dividend. There are few social services provided by the state. In fact, some of the better educational opportunities -- few and far between -- have come from original Lost Boys who left careers in the U.S. to return to their beloved homeland and finance their own schools. One such school we visited was started by Valentino Deng Ajak, the inspiration for the main character of Dave Eggers' novel What is the What.

The state's failure to provide infrastructure, education, or a stable investment climate has meant that young South Sudanese have few opportunities. Especially in the oilfields of the Greater Upper Nile region, where massive wealth from under the soil is exported out of the area with no discernible benefits to the communities, a huge reservoir of uneducated teenage boys has been easy recruiting fodder for rebel commanders and opportunistic politicians who use them to further their own ambitions. The largest concentration of child soldiers is from the loose collection of militias known as the White Army of the oilfield region, where thousands upon thousands of boys and young men from the Nuer ethnic group have been mobilized to join in South Sudan's new rebellion. Local militia recruiters utilize ethnically charged messaging that polarizes the two dominant ethnic groups in the country, the Dinka and Nuer, which will necessitate decades of reconciliation efforts to heal.

Revenge has helped mobilize the child soldiers. During the conflict's first few days, Dinka soldiers of the army's presidential guard deliberately targeted Nuer civilians in Juba, lighting an ethnic match that has now engulfed parts of South Sudan. The United Nations is providing sanctuary for over 43,000 Nuer residents of Juba (over 900,000 have been displaced nationally in the last two months), who tell harrowing stories of being hunted by government soldiers targeting people of their ethnic group. Our Satellite Sentinel Project has captured imagery of subsequent destruction by both government and rebel forces and their militias.

A peace agenda must deal squarely with the burgeoning numbers of new Lost Boys and the broader crisis facing youth. To begin with, youth leaders must be part of a much more inclusive peace process in Addis Ababa. South Sudan and international donors should undertake a major investment in education, livelihood opportunities, demobilization activities, and psycho-social support for boys and girls throughout the country, particularly in areas where militia recruitment has distorted and militarized the aspirations of countless teenage boys. Credible accountability mechanisms need to be constructed to prosecute those that orchestrate atrocities and child soldier recruitment. The U.S. can play a crucial role in the success of these initiatives.

Meaningful future opportunities and an inclusive peace process will reduce recruitment and interrupt the cycle of conflict, child soldierdom, and ethnic division that has plagued this region for decades. The mass killing in the Bor hospital could symbolize another escalation in an expanding atrocity-fueled war, or provide a wake-up call that feuding politicians cannot be allowed to use hope-starved boys so cynically in pursuit of their ambitions. The answer will determine the fate of millions of South Sudanese children.

George Clooney, co-founder of Not On Our Watch, and John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, together created the Satellite Sentinel Project.

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silly girl
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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by party animal - not! on Tue Feb 25 2014, 16:59

This is terrible.

It would drive me to despair, but it's going to take a lot longer than two years to wipe out all those thousands of years of tribal confrontation and fear.

Shame that al Bashir's just over the border. Wake up people!

party animal - not!
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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by LizzyNY on Tue Feb 25 2014, 19:46

I can't imagine how frustrating this must be to the people who deal with it on a daily basis. It seems for every step forward they take ten steps back. How on earth can they possibly begin to solve their problems when every action creates more hatred? How can those poor children possibly be healed after what they're going through? Sometimes I despair of mankind.

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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by it's me on Tue Feb 25 2014, 22:35

overwhelming
again


I left speechless

it's me
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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by Atalante on Tue Feb 25 2014, 22:49

Well google " Endgenocide " look for their twitter and facebookaccount and ask for Bashir's arrest. He's about to visit ... .  Twisted Evil 

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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by Mazy on Wed Feb 26 2014, 01:04

Atalante wrote:Well google " Endgenocide " look for their twitter and facebookaccount and ask for Bashir's arrest. He's about to visit ... .  Twisted Evil 

Thanks Atalante for the info.
I sign so many petitions with human rights organizations and Amnesty International, ass well as political ones; I don't know if it helps but all we can do is try. This is so sad it is going to take generations to help this situation. The crooked government officials like Bashir use some of the different militias to do their genocide killings when they can. I follow EndGenocide on twitter and any others that have to do with genocide.

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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by party animal - not! on Wed Feb 26 2014, 18:54

John Prendergast is giving evidence, starting in five minutes

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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by LizzyNY on Wed Feb 26 2014, 21:09

PAN - Thank you so much for the heads up. Unfortunately I only caught the last few minutes, but it was enough to tell me that the situation is worse than ever. I hope this hearing has some effect on our policy in the area and that our government really does step up the pressure to solve the situation.

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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

Post by Mazy on Thu Feb 27 2014, 07:32

I will add the reports as I format them in a separate thread.

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Re: George Clooney's new op ed on USA Today

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