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- Category: Latest (South) Sudan News From Various Sources
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If you thought it was difficult to get up at 6 a.m. Sunday to watch Concord High graduate Guor Marial compete in the Olympics from the comfort of your living room, consider the plight of his parents in South Sudan: They walked 30 miles to the nearest town with a television to watch the son they've not seen since 1993.
Marial didn't win the men's marathon in London - he came in 47th, 11:31 minutes behind the winning time - but that was hardly the point. It was only the third marathon he'd ever run. He was accepted into the Olympics at the last minute, meaning his body wasn't wholly prepared for the race. But he ran, he finished and, for a moment at least, he focused the world's attention on his troubled homeland.
Marial fled Sudan more than a decade ago, escaping a civil war that nearly killed him, as it did 28 of his relatives. He landed in Concord and, despite his own skepticism, joined the track and cross-country teams at Concord High School. For the first time, he wasn't running for his life but for the sheer sport of it. Turns out, he was good enough to use his new sport to make a political statement to the world this week: Don't forget about South Sudan.
Indeed, it's not a part of the world many of us worry about. South Sudan became an independent nation just last year after a brutal civil war that left millions dead and displaced. But that was just a first step toward establishing a government that its citizens could count on to provide the basics and maintain law and order. And so far, the jury is still out.
Despite oil wealth, the economy of South Sudan is among the weakest in the world, and basic infrastructure is nearly nonexistent. (When Marial's parents left their hometown to find a television to watch the Olympics, it wasn't just TV and electricity they were lacking, but a decent road to get them to one.)
Health care is rudimentary in South Sudan. Maternal mortality and infant mortality are high, as is female illiteracy. South Sudan and Sudan have yet to work out numerous issues about borders and oil. Each has accused the other of harboring rebel groups. Ongoing disputes and internal corruption have kept the government from fulfilling its promises. The goal of free university education has been replaced, for now, with severe austerity measures.
In some parts of the country, despite the official end of the war, inter-ethnic violence and armed rebellions persist.
In other words, this is a place that needs all the help it can get - including the inspiration of a favorite son.
"I have no problem. I live in the United States," Marial told reporters after the marathon on Sunday. "I have running shoes. I'm fine. What about the people that are out there? This is the reason I was finishing today. For those people. They are in a rough condition, and I hope that the world is able to help them."
Marial intends to continue running. Equally important, he will continue to remind those nations with resources and short attention spans that his homeland is still in need.
Newer news items:
- Sudan, South must cooperate to avoid 'suicide': ex-PM - AFP - 14/08/2012
- Turtle Bay: China brokers tentative oil agreement between the Sudans - Foreign Policy (blog) - 14/08/2012
- Kenya's Co-operative Bank sets up shop in South Sudan - Reuters - 14/08/2012
- US$ 3 billion pricetag for South Sudan's oil pipeline - Energy Global - 14/08/2012
- South Sudanese workers at UN demonstrate to get paid in $ value - Borglobe - 14/08/2012
Older news items:
- South Sudan rolls out plan to counter youth unemployment - Al-Bawaba - 13/08/2012
- Sudan very optimistic about border agreement with S.Sudan - 13/08/2012
- Sudan very optimistic about border agreement with S.Sudan - Reuters - 13/08/2012
- Sudan very optimistic about border agreement with South Sudan - 13/08/2012
- Sudan very optimistic about border agreement with South Sudan - Reuters - 12/08/2012
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