South Sudan violence
Through encounters like this one with Aysha, I have seen firsthand that all mothers have the same dreams for their children. We want them to be safe, happy and successful, and that hope doesn't change even if your circumstances are difficult. If anything, it may even become more important.
Climate change is certainly partly to blame for droughts that destroy crops, kill livestock and dry up rivers. However, the main cause of hunger crises is conflict. If the guns were silenced and humanitarian access were restored, it would save more lives in the short term than the return of the rains and crops.
Three years of conflict in South Sudan have taken a massive toll on the lives of millions of children and women across the country. As a result of the violence that erupted in December, 2013, nearly 3.1 million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes, with children representing about half of all those who are displaced.
Last month, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that in just three weeks, it processed 37,491 refugees from South Sudan who were fleeing to neighbouring Uganda -- 8,200 arrived in a single day.
It has been one year since South Sudan signed a peace deal to end 20-months of conflict in the world's newest country. But with renewed violent clashes in July and mass internal displacement, long-term peace and stability remains uncertain. These South Sudanese children share what peace means to them.
In places like South Sudan, children are battered by the effects of war, long before they step onto the football field. Soccer, sometimes, is the one good thing in their lives. But no amount of football can change the basic facts of their lives.
Today's conflicts are smaller in scale than the world wars on which we normally focus come Remembrance Day. But tragically, so are many of the soldiers. There are some 250,000 child soldiers in the world today, mostly in Africa. Children the age of my school-aged sons are shoved headlong into a hell that's unimaginable for most adults, let alone a child.
Three years ago today, there was dancing on the streets of South Sudan. A new nation had just been born. Having voted to separate from Sudan, the people were bursting with dreams for a free and independent future. But the anniversary of independence is not being marked today with celebrations.
Will the Government send a high-level Canadian Government representative to South Sudan (and/or in coordination of other international actors as part of a delegation) to demonstrate that Canada is taking the conflict seriously, and will not accept the status quo?