Stop the Violence, Heal Our Country: NBA Star Luol Deng's Appeal to South Sudanese
South Sudanese NBA star and peace activist Luol Deng speaks from the heart in this moving message to the youth of South Sudan on forgiveness, strength, and courage in the face of the current conflict. The message from Luol is interspersed with powerful images from his work in South Sudan using basketball to build bridges between youth from different tribal and ethnic backgrounds. He calls on South Sudanese youth to take a stand against the ethnic polarization of the conflict and to advocate for peace in their own communities.
On December 15, the world’s youngest nation descended once again into civil war as a result of the political breakdown in internal party politics within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Former Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, mobilized his community, the second largest ethnic group in South Sudan, to fight against government forces loyal to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, a member of the majority Dinka ethnic group. Factions of the national army quickly split along ethnic lines and two army divisions defected under Machar’s leadership in Jonglei and Unity states.
Over 10,000 civilians have been killed and over one million have been displaced. The fighting threatens to set off massive starvation across the country since communities have not been able to take advantage of the first rains of the season to plant their crops. The unprecedented humanitarian and security challenges currently facing the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) are overwhelming. The crisis requires an immediate negotiated settlement, which has so far evaded the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediators. The more the South Sudanese people demand peace from their leaders, the greater the chances are that a negotiated settlement might be achieved.