Saterday I was at the A struggle for peace conference in Utrecht. Talks where about terrorism, military peace keeping operations, the media’s role and much more.
I learned most from the talk of Jan Pronk on Sudan. He had a leading part for the UN, trying to de-escalate the situation, and had to leave last year because he came in direct conflict with the government of Sudan.
He managed to explain a complex situation clearly. I’ll give you the ultra-short and somewhat simplified version:
There is a problem with the Norh and South part of Sudan. The South part is doing ok, the North part not so much. The South could claim independence from the North, but the UN thinks this could lead to conflicts in Sudan and in the rest of Africa where rebels could start to demand independence too.
Being sent by the UN, Pronk’s job was to promote the ’stay to together’ option. At the end of the talk someone in the audience asked what he personally thinks what would be the best for the South of Sudan. He said that if he would be living in the South of Sudan he would favor indepence. But added that with the knowledge that this would probably lead to a new war with the North and the South, he might be too afraid of that war, and might go for ’staying together’. It just shows how complex the situation is. How firmly can you stand for something, when the consequences might be war?
I firmly believe he did and does everything he can to make the best out of the situation. So I just repeat what he said was needed to prevent a new war in Sudan and the region:
Sudan needs extra money for improving the conditions in the very poor regions in the South. Because there is a bit of food and there is no full blown war, it is not ’sexy enough’ to get money for development. Most of the money is now going to Darfur (where it is also needed). Development (electricity, clean water, some sort of medical centers and schooling) is needed, so the people in the South can see that the treaty with the North is bringing them somewhat better lives. Keeping them from voting for indepence, which they legally can do, but will probably trigger a war.