The story of the “Lost Boys” of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups in Southern Sudan took a surprising twist. Thousands of them had left their home during the so-called “Second Sudanese Civil War“, which started in 1983 and officially ended with the signing of a peace agreement in January 2005. Their stories are those of relentless odysseys:
“Sent off by their families at the height of the violence, they ended up trekking hundreds of miles through swamps, deserts and hostile territory — often in packs, sometimes chased by government bombers and slave traders, sometimes forced to be child soldiers.”
“Orphaned and with no support, they would make epic journeys lasting years across the borders to international relief camps in Ethiopia and Kenya evading thirst, starvation, wild animals, insects, disease, and one of the most bloody wars of the 20th century. Experts say they are the most badly war-traumatized children ever examined.”
The name “Lost Boys” was given them by aid organizations, including the International Rescue Committee program which resettled some of these refugees from Sudan to the United States. In 2001, about 3800 Lost Boys arrived in the United States, where they are now scattered in about 38 cities.
Currently, these “boys” – most of them in their thirties, with own families and offsprings already – are participating in a distinctive ballot. They enter busses in Michigan, Philadelphia or Alexandria, travel together with their homies and vote for a free Southern Sudan.
A referendum is taking place in Southern Sudan from 9 January until 15 January 2011, on whether or not the region should remain a part of Sudan or be independent.
While President Barack Obama – who “deserves credit for working very hard in the last few months, and so far successfully, to avert a new war in Sudan,” (Nicholas D. Kristof on Facebook) – pushes for a peacefull split -
If the south chooses independence, the international community, including the United States, will have an interest in ensuring that the two nations that emerge succeed as stable and economically viable neighbors, because their fortunes are linked.
- the still president of all Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, though pledging to recognise the result of the still ongoing referendum, wants the people of Southern Sudan to take the chance to vote for the country’s unity.
For ‘Lost Boy,’ Vote in Sudan Is a Homecoming by Jeffrey Gettleman (New York Times)
In Sudan, an Election and a Beginning by Barack Obama (New York Times)
Obama Presses for Peace in Likely Sudan Partition by Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
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