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Monday, December 12, 2011

South Sudan: The end of starvation is the beginning of peace

Check out the latest Time Magazine for an excellent editorial on famine in the Sudan and the urgent, strategic need for continued famine aid.

It makes the argument that we frequently make. Because South Sudanese communities suffer continued instability due to the abuse of militias dispatched from North Sudan and not in spite of it, we must continue to aid the victims of violence and man-made starvation.

Many people broach the notion of people caught in complex and violent scenarios with a sad, perhaps even teary-eyed unwillingness to engage. The reasoning: helping people who 'can't' be peaceful is a waste of your money. You may as well pour your aid down the drain.

We experience this line of thinking not infrequently. Consider the (justly huge) outpouring of aid to Haiti after the earthquake of 2008, compared to the relatively more tepid response to famine victims of war-torn Somalia. The spectre of war casts a cold shadow on our capacity to be generous.

As the Time Magazine article expresses so well, starving people is a weapon of war. If we allow people in these situations to go hungry, we play right into the strategy of the aggressors and oppressors. In fact, giving well-administered aid can go a long way to fighting for the cause of peace.

Even if you set aside the argument that all human suffering is equal and should be addressed with equal fervour, you can still feel justified in aiding those caught up in war. Where there is clean water, sufficient food, education, and opportunity to work, there is peace. By giving, you aren't casting pearls to any proverbial swines -- you are actually becoming a peace-maker.

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