Friday, January 6, 2012

South Sudan, the Táin Bó Cúalnge, and Working for a Better World

South Sudan is in the news again. Some Lou Nuer attacked folks around Pibor; after folks who had fled Pibore killed some Lou Nurer. The situation reminds me of what my ancestors were doing, a thousand years ago or so: Njal's Saga, the Táin Bó Cúalnge, and all that.

One of the immediate issues in South Sudan is that the new nation's government has thousands of folks who desperately need food, shelter, and medical attention. South Sudan's government is asking for help:1
"...The clashes around the town of Pibor are a result of cattle raids that have spiralled out of control.

"On Thursday South Sudan declared a disaster in Jonglei state...."

"...Several UN agencies are taking part in the aid effort, which will focus on food distribution, providing water and sanitation, and treating the injured, Ms Byrs said...."
(BBC News)
English-language news on both sides of the Atlantic, what I've seen, focus on the United Nation's efforts to help 2,000 of the 50,000 folks immediately involved. Happily, South Sudan doesn't have to rely exclusively on the United Nations.

Working in South Sudan, Before there was a South Sudan

I've mentioned Catholic Relief Services, CRS, before. They've been in Sudan, including the Darfur area, for years:

The United Nations, Congress, and Me

I don't 'trust' the United Nations, in the sense that I assume every decision they make is right. Using that definition, I don't 'trust' Congress, either. But, and I think this is an important point: right now the United Nations, the American Congress, and Nintendo are what we have to work with. "Nintendo?!" I'll get back to that.

Eventually we may have an "international authority with the necessary competence and power"2 to keep national leaders in line; and give citizens legal, peaceful, means to deal with tyrants and nitwits. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2308) Until we have something like Tennyson's parliament of man, we're stuck with we've got.

We're also expected to work with what we've got, and I've been over that before:

The United Nations, the American Congress, and Nintendo?!

No, I do not believe that Nintendo, the Walt Disney Company, and the Illuminati, are controlling people's behavior with radio waves from invisible helicopters. Intriguing as the notion is, for a storyteller.

I included Nintendo in that list, because I don't think that an "international authority with the necessary competence and power" needs to be a government. For example, the Hanseatic League brought a measure of order to people from Novgorod to London from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Then Europe got nation-states. Today, about a half-millennia later, maybe the European Union will work out: and that's another topic.

Using the same definition of "trust" that I used earlier, I don't "trust" Nintendo, the Walt Disney Company, or Bharti Airtel. I think corporate leaders can make mistakes. As America's big three automakers demonstrated a few years ago.

But maybe that "international authority with the necessary competence and power" will be more like the Hanseatic League, and less like the sort of folks who gave us the Hundred Years' War, Reconstruction and the Treaty of Versailles.

Related posts:
In the news:Background:
  • "South Sudan"
    CIA World FactBook (last updated November 10, 2011)
  • "Sudan"
    Catholic Relief Services

1 From today's news:
"South Sudan's Jonglei clashes: UN begins aid effort"
BBC News (January 6, 2012)

"The UN has launched a 'massive emergency operation' to help those affected by ethnic clashes in South Sudan's Jonglei state.

"Food distribution has begun for 2,000 people, UN spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the BBC.

"The operation aims to help 50,000 people who have fled recent clashes between rival ethnic groups, she said.

"The clashes around the town of Pibor are a result of cattle raids that have spiralled out of control.

"On Thursday South Sudan declared a disaster in Jonglei state.

"Some 6,000 ethnic Lou Nuer fighters attacked the area around Pibor in recent days, outnumbering South Sudan's army and UN forces.

"This is the latest round in a cycle of violence which has lasted several months - in one incident last year some 600 Lou Nuer were killed by attackers from the Murle community, the group which fled from Pibor...."
"South Sudan appeals for humanitarian aid amid fighting"
CNN (January 6, 2012)

"South Sudan appealed for international aid for a remote region that has been under attack by roaming fighters, as thousands of residents fled into the bush to avoid the violence.

"The government declared Jonglei state a 'humanitarian disaster area' and called on international aid agencies to help provide urgently needed assistance.

"It is not yet clear how many people have been killed or injured in the violence.

"The United Nations said Thursday it was mounting a 'massive emergency support programme' to help those displaced by fighting...."

"...Ethnic tensions in Jonglei state have flared as tribes fight over grazing lands and water rights, leading to cattle raids and abduction of women and children.

"Government officials have urged the two ethnic groups to return women and children abducted in the spate of violence.

"More forces will be deployed and a committee established to push for reconciliation between the two groups, according to government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin...."
2 Cited September 11, 2011:
"All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

However, 'as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.'106
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2308)


Brigid said...

Might want to look at footnote 2. There's something funky about it.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader.

Brian Gill said...


Funky, indeed. And now, fixed. Thanks!

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