South Sudan gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011. (98.83% support) Its capital and largest city is Juba. But it has suffered ethnic violence and endured a civil war since 2013. Also, 6.9 million people are experiencing hunger. It is about two thirds of the population, 12 million. South Sudan has the third largest refugee (3.7 million) crisis, after Syria and Afghanistan. (if you want to know more stastistics)
There is good news, too. On September 2018, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed a peace deal with main rebel leader Riek Machar formally ending a five-year civil war. Although the conflict has been resolved to some extent, it is still uneasy because it has been violated and moves toward peace.
I would like to introduce young men who move for peace.
1st IPYG Youth Peace Empowerment Project
‘The 1st IPYG Youth Peace Empowerment Project’ was held on December 16th at office of Junub Open Space in Juba, South Sudan. It was hosted by International Peace Youth Group(IPYG) and Junub Open Space(JunubOS).
The IPYG Youth Peace Empowerment Project composed of 11 chapters provides an opportunity for students and young people to learn the values such as harmony and co-existence through agriculture where the law of nature is being explored and is closely related to the daily lives of African youths. They would be nurtured as ‘Messenger of peace’ who can lead in the forefront for world peace through various experimental and research activities.
Also IPYG Youth Peace Empowerment Project shares the same vision with the UN SDGs, especially Goal 4 ‘Quality Education’. The project was designed to teach basic agricultural and historical knowledge to students and young people who are excluded from formal educational institutions.
IPYG aims to conduct the project at five schools in South Sudan this year. Furthermore, it is in the process of making educational material to implement the project in all African country.
What is the situation of South Sudan? Conflicts and disputes have consistently occurred in South Sudan. It is because of politics and struggles for power. It is very harsh reality. What do the children here think? Can they laugh in the war? Adults should protect our children. So many people are longing for and looking towards a future of peace. Peace Festival! Then, what is the role of the youth in achieving peace under these situations?
What role? Youth should put effort into making it known to all people that they want peace and encourage everyone to have a heart that loves peace. For this very purpose, on March 17, 2018 in Juba, South Sudan, the 2nd IPYG Peace Concert was held by Junub Open Space and IPYG. Its purpose is to to spread a culture of peace in accordance with Article 10 of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW).
2nd IPYG Peace Concert : Peace Festival
At Peace Concert, numerous colorful performances were able to spread a culture of peace to all citizens in Juba. The event is starting with the traditional dance of South Sudan. The theme is the hope of having a peaceful world and the pain of war. They use ‘Song, Poem and Drama’. In between these programs, prominent figures delivered speeches to convey their heart for peace in the minds of all Juba citizens. Around 3,000 people participated in the concert. It is including government officials, principals, and directors of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
United as One under the Culture of Peace
One participant said, “I’m experienced a truly peaceful world without war.” He hope for the day when this event becomes the best peace festival not only in Juba but in all of South Sudan.
President of Junub Open Space, who prepared the event said, “Thanks for the work. The concert was so beautiful. I can feel how much we stand for peace. We have the courage to pursue peace in South Sudan”.
Executive Director of the People’s Empowerment Center South Sudan also stated, “Thanks for supporting the carrying out of peace events where the country needed it most. We would like to extend such campaigns for peace outside Juba”.