Closure of border scares South Sudanese


Relationship between the two neighbours has never been good, particularly on the Abyei issue.

Sudan People's Liberation Army soldiers stand outside a United Nations base in Abyei May 16, 2008.   PHOTO | REUTERS

02 April 2016

South Sudanese have expressed fears over a border standoff with Sudan.

The citizens of the young nation say the closing of the border and tensions with Khartoum could badly affect their lives.

A senior employee of the state-owned Nile Pet Oil Company, Charles Juma Modi, said Khartoum’s decision to close the border would aggravate suffering, not only in South Sudan, but also in the Sudanese marginalised regions of Nuba, Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur.

Modi said the stalemate between the neighbours was bad for the South Sudanese who moved from Upper Nile and Bahr-el-Ghazal to Khartoum in search of food.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees last week said hunger made about 38,000 South Sudanese from Warrap and Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal states flee into Sudan’s East and South Darfur regions since January.

“Khartoum is a major source of many basic commodities and they are much cheaper than the ones from East Africa,” Modi said.

He expressed worries that Sudan could block pipelines which transport South Sudan oil to the international markets.

About 98 per cent of South Sudan’s revenue comes from oil exports.

Clement Lerat, an economist, expressed similar fears and called on the South Sudanese authorities to address the situation.

“Our people should be brought home as Khartoum has closed the border,” he said.

According to the Executive Director for African Centre for Transitional Justice, Peter Gai Manyuon, there was nothing new about tensions between the two countries.

“Whether the border is open or closed, nothing will benefit South Sudan and her people. The issue of Abyei will always disrupt the relationship and the cooperation agreement signed by both countries,” he said.

Sudan and South Sudan lay claim to oil-rich region of Abyei.

South Sudanese singer Nyibol Grace said she was dismayed by the breakdown of relations between the two countries and urged Juba and Khartoum authorities begin negotiations to reopen the border “for the benefit of their citizens”.

“It is tragic that Sudan has taken that step. I understand there were negotiations on how to build trade corridors and make it easy for citizens to move into either country,” she said.

Journalist War Machor described Khartoum’s decision as unfortunate, saying it would cause a humanitarian crisis in both countries.

He said Sudan and South Sudan faced insecurity and other problems, which could become worse with the closure of the border.

Source: The Daily Nation