October 8, 2021 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar held a meeting with media leaders to understand various perspectives to address threats and protest arising from unemployment of the young people.
- Riek Machar South Sudan FVP (Reuters photo)
The meeting comes on the backdrop of the increased protest and threats against humanitarian workers by unemployed youth group demanding 80% employment of local youth by relief organizations working in the area in which they operate.
Machar was prompted by latest development in Pibor administrative area in which youth gave humanitarian organizations 72 hours ultimatum to pull out of the area if their demands are not met.
The ultimatum resulted in the withdrawal of 78 national staff representing different relief organizations but who are from different ethnic groups and regions outside Pibor. 3 international staff members who were working in the area were also evacuated.
The United Nations decried the action of the youth, saying it would affect provision of essential services to vulnerable groups at the time floods have inundated the area, causing destruction of properties and displacement.
Many of the relief organizations whose staff have now been pulled out of the area following threats and ultimatum issued by the leadership of the youth from the area were involved in the emergency management activities.
Their activities have now stalled, and the situation remains dire.
Machar says he wants to find a lasting solution to the situation caused by unemployment by soliciting views from different stakeholders, including members of the media, civil society, humanitarian organizations, the UN mission, local leadership and national institutions such as the ministry of labor and human resources, ministry of public service, ministry of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, relief and rehabilitation commission, his office, council of ministers and the office of the president in collaboration and involvement of other clusters chaired by other deputies.
The Dawn Newspaper, one of the daily English newspapers operating in the capital, Juba, decried the action of the youth, describing it as appalling and embarrassing.
“The latest threat to expel some 30 United Nations staff working in the restive Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) is appalling and at the same time embarrassing. The problem of unemployment in this country has not been created by the UN. The anger of these belligerent youth should be channeled toward the national government and their local leaders in the GPAA”, the publication wrote in its editorial brief in response to the ultimatum and subsequent evacuation of the aid workers.
The paper attributed the cause of protest and threats by youth organizations and inability of the local leadership to promptly contain and handle the situation from spiraling out of control to lack of employment resulting from dependence syndrome on relief, all emanated from years of conflict with which the country has been riddled before, during and after secession from Sudan in 2011.
The head of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS), Patrick Charles Oyet commended the decision of the first vice president to call and convene a meeting with the leaders of the media, saying it was the time first time that the leadership in South Sudan at the top level had consulted media leaders to solicit their views about what role they can play to tackle the issue of youth unemployment and what needs to be done to help young people diversify their skills and knowledge to help find jobs in the country.
Machar is the government appointed chairman of a High-Level Committee formed in July to study grievances resulting from youth unemployment. The body was tasked to identify, analyze, and devise strategies that would provide a roadmap on how to permanently resolve the grievances arising from unemployment in the country. He was deputized by Vice President for Service Clusters Hussein Abdel Bagi Akol, and Vice President for Gender and Youth Cluster Rebecca Nyandeng.