The African Union (AU) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat has expressed deep concern over the on-going conflict in South Sudan citing “unspeakable suffering” on civilians in Africa’s youngest nation.
In a speech read on his behalf during celebrations to mark Africa Day in Nairobi, Mahamat called on leaders from both sides of the conflict to stop the killings and establish inclusive dialogue.
South Sudan has witnessed renewed fighting despite a peace agreement signed in August 2015. At least 1 million people have fled the country and another 2 million are living in camps for displaced persons.
The United Nations declared a famine in some parts of the war weary country.
The colourful event recalled the gains made by the continent so far by Africa in working towards unity as envisaged by the continent’s forefathers.
Director General of United Nations Nairobi, Sahle-Work Zewde says, “We have peacekeepers under the AU who are doing the biggest job. We have the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), where they are not only keeping peace; they are enforcing peace that us as the UN cannot do at the moment. If we have peacekeepers in Mali it is because Africans have been the first to move in and fight the fight.”
Of great concern to the African Union is the on-going conflict in South Sudan.
AU Representative Bruce Mukanda says, “I urge the parties to stop these massive crimes and without delay, to establish an inclusive dialogue, to re-determine a peaceful destiny for their people.”
With a population of 1.2 billion and the average age of 20 years, the continent’s leadership is hard pressed to take advantage of the continent’s demographic dividend.
Kenya’s Youth Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki says, “We need to equip the youth with the necessary skills to work or to be self-employed. Once we have worked on the attitudes to be self-employed then the migration patterns we have witnessed lately, which includes young people risking their lives to cross seas in search of better environments, will cease.”
But even as the continent stood to celebrate its diversity and freedom not lost on its citizens is the tragedies and atrocities on the continent.
In East Africa we have conflicts in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, the DRC, and yet the continent has set itself a goal of silencing the guns by 2020.
– By Sarah Kimani