By TOM GODFREY
The ethnic conflict in South Sudan is escalating with 10,000 people killed and a million displaced and the world just can’t stand by idly and watch, warns one of Canada’s two Black Senators.
Pastor Don Meredith visited Washington, D.C. last week to meet with the Ambassador of South Sudan to the U.S. and other top diplomats to lend his support in ending the bloodshed in the African country.
Meredith plans to assemble a group of senior Parliamentarians who can act as a mediator for a peace agreement between the rebels and government forces.
The country erupted into violence last December 15 after rebels and militia members loyal to Vice President Riek Machar who, following a failed coup, has battled government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir.
“This is ruthless ethnic cleansing and fast-track genocide in the making as the international community sits idle,” Meredith told Share from the U.S. “This is just simply and absolutely unacceptable.”
Meredith, a member of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association, said the Parliamentarians may have to travel to South Sudan to help bring about peace if asked.
“This is dire and the world has to do something,” he said. “We just can’t sit back idle and watch all these people die.”
The conflict has left 10,000 dead and about one million people displaced, according to the latest reports from human rights groups.
Meredith said no peace plan has lasted and the violence includes mass killings, rape, looting and thefts.
“How many more innocent lives must be lost and how long must we wait?” he asked. “Have we already lost sight of the profound lessons of places such as Rwanda and Kosovo? How long will it take us to act this time?”
Meredith said the Canadian contributions to South Sudan include humanitarian support and peacekeeping operations.
“This is a ticking time bomb, as such, an unequivocal call for action,” he said. “As a pastor, even as I pray for peace, I know we just have to do more, especially for the young lives which remain in jeopardy.”
Meredith and Sen. Anne Cools are the only Black members of the Senate of Canada. The first Black appointed to the Upper Chamber in 1990, Sen. Don Oliver, is now retired.
The UN Security Council has increased troop numbers in South Sudan from 7,000 to 12,500 since the outbreak.
The World Food Program said they have lost 4,400 tonnes of food in a number of organized attacks, hindering the capacity to address the needs of 3.7 million vulnerable people who desperately need food aid.
Sudan is now deemed a “level three,” the highest level emergency as the impending rainy season in March is expected to turn overcrowded refugee camps into breeding grounds for cholera and other infectious diseases.