U.S. media on Jonglei Governor's visit


 

Southern Sudanese leader visits Syracuse

 

govkuolSYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The auditorium at Henninger High School was filled with jubilant songs as the crowd welcomed Kuol Manyang Juuk, the current governor of the Jonglei State in Southern Sudan.


The conflict between the Muslim north and mainly Christian south broke out in Jonglei and became Africa's longest running Civil War at 21 years. Kuol was a key military leader then for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

 

"He was an icon for the Sudanese people. He was a liberator at that time. So we will say we actually acknowledge him to see that he has done a lot for the Sudanese people," said Geu Dit, the event emcee.

 

The governor was also instrumental in finding refuge for the Lost Boys here in America.

 

"He was the one sending down some troops to guide people, especially young children, and also sending down grown up people and women to take care of these young boys, because he considered us the future of the nation," said Dominic Diing, one of the Lost Boys.

 

A man strongly revered by Southern Sudanese refugees, visited the Syracuse area this weekend. Karen Lee spoke with the community on what Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk means to them.

The governor's visit was not only to update the community about the current peace process in Southern Sudan, but it was also to bring back news to the refugees' family members that are still back home.


"We are here in the US as ambassadors to the Sudan and he's also here too as an ambassador. So whatever we feel is the message, it's leaving the US and going to Southern Sudan," said Dit.

"Since I came to the United States, I got my education. So I want any child in Southern Sudan to have education. Since I came to the United States, when I'm sick, I see the doctor. I want any person in Sudan to see his or her doctor. I want also freedom of everyone," said Diing

 

 

Sudan looks to Houston for help

 

The governor of oil-rich Jonglei state in southern Sudan, Kuol Manyang Juuk, was in Houston last week. Here he met U.S. business people and invited them to explore myriad investment opportunities in his state. The southern Sudan is struggling to rebuild as the decades-long civil war in the country has come to an end, at least for the time being. Juuk shared his vision and experiences with Houston Chronicle reporter Shahzada Irfan.

 

Q. Tell us briefly about the recent history of Sudan.

 

A. The country had been at war with itself since 1955. The socio-economic marginalization of its peripheries by the center and its attempt to impose religious laws were the main reasons of the conflict. The war concluded in 2005 with a peace agreement brokered by the U.S. Now there is one unity government with two different systems for northern Sudan and southern Sudan. The Muslim majority north has Islamic Shariah laws in place whereas the south comprises minorities and is secular. In 2011, there will be a referendum that will decide the fate of the unity government. If majority of people in southern Sudan vote for independence it will become a separate country.

 

Q. What are the urgent issues confronting your region?

 

A. The biggest are unemployment, lack of social services for people and non-existence of infrastructure. People indulge in cattle raiding and fight each other for sustenance. Then there is shortage of food. There are security issues as well, but we have been successful in minimizing them.

Q. What sectors are you trying to develop?

A. Our focus is on developing agriculture and setting up physical infrastructure. We have enough water and fertile land. Then comes the oil and energy sector. Southern Sudan has huge oil reserves. So far it sells crude but we are asking investors to set up refineries. Building rail and road networks and producing power are our other priority areas.

 

Q. What stops your economy from growing?

 

A. Our economy is suffering from the aftermaths of civil war. There are no roads in the state, making it difficult to move goods. The international community pledged aid, but little money is coming. Another is the neglect shown by the unity government. We share 50 percent of our oil revenues with them but don't get anything return.

 

Q. How can the U.S. help build your economy?

 

A. The U.S. is a major guarantor of the peace agreement. It can help bring stability to the region which in turn can boost community. It can also convince the international community to help us out. Then the people of the U.S. country can make investments in different sectors. The U.S. State Department has organized a visit of U.S. businessmen to my state. They are leaving on July 12. The U.S. imposes trade sanctions on Sudan but the southern states are exempt from them. So, it's already helping us grow.

 

Q. What brought you to Houston?

 

A. There are several similarities between Houston and Jonglei. Both have enough flat land and adequate water. Their people rear livestock and grow food. Their climates are the same. Their economies are greatly dependent on oil. Though we do not have a seaport like Houston, we have the concept of building river ports in Sudan. Houston is already Sudan's largest trade partner in the U.S. with trade above $75 million in 2008.

Q. How was the response in Houston?

 

A. We had meetings with top business leaders in Houston, and they were all excited. We have invited them over to Jonglei. As seeing is believing, they will be in a better position to decide once they see things on ground.

 

Q. Why would one invest in your state?

A. Simply to make money. There are so many untapped resources which the investors can explore. A lot of them are attracted by our incentives, including provision of land on lease and the permission to repatriate home the money they make. The standards of governance are very high in my state and setting up business very easy.

 

Sudanese refugees thanked commander who helped them during the civil war in their homeland

 

By Maureen Sieh /The Post-Standard

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Syracuse, NY.----Cheingkuac Mabil never forgot the army commander who gave him a blanket when he was hiding in the bush during the height of the Sudanese civil war in 1987.

Mabil, then 9, shared a blanket with four other boys who became known as the "Lost Boys" because they spent much of their lives on the run fleeing war and famine all across East Africa.

Today, Mabil thanked Kuol Manyang Juuk, the former commander of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the military group formed in 1983 to fight against the Sudanese army that invaded Southern Sudan.

Juuk is now the governor of Southern Sudan's Jonglei state. He came to Syracuse to update Sudanese refugees about the peace process in their homeland.

He addressed about 200 Sudanese refugees in the auditorium of Henninger High School. The refugees came from Canada, New England, Rochester, Buffalo and other parts of upstate New York.

One by one, the young men shared their encounters with Juuk during the war.

"When I was cold, he brought me a blanket," Mabil said. "When you have your own blanket, that's exciting. We're very glad that he's helping improve security in Southern Sudan."

Clement Kuck was 16-years-old when he joined the SPLA to fight against the Sudanese Army. Juuk, he said, influenced a lot of young boys to fight against the northern army.

"He told us to go to the frontlines," said Clement, 29. "We were fighting for freedom of our country.''

Clement told the crowd how Juuk rallied the people of Southern Sudan to fight the northern army.

"He was saying, 'We're going to capture the enemy,''' said Clement, who came to Syracuse in 2004.

In between the speeches, the crowd sang Sudanese patriotic songs in the Dinka language. They sang some of those songs during the war.

It's a cry to rise up against oppression, said John Dau, one of the organizers of the event.

"They're saying rise up and fight for your freedom," said Dau, one of three men featured in the award-winning documentary "God Grew Tired of Us."

Syracuse is one of several cities Juuk is visiting to meet with the Sudanese community and interest American business men to invest in Southern Sudan. He also discussed the 2010 elections in Southern Sudan.

Monday, he's expected to meet with officials from the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, John said.

"Southern Sudan has lots of resources," he said. "We have oil. There are agricultural opportunities.''

Councilor-at-large Van Robinson told Juuk about the contribution the "Lost Boys'' were making in Syracuse and the United States.

"We embrace you and all the Southern Sudanese people as a family of the United States,'' he said. "May the people of Southern Sudan be free at last.'' 

 

 


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