OpEd, Politics

War has subsided, what is killing now is trauma

Achieving peace is one thing, but healing the trauma is another. A war of nerves leaves nobody untraumatized! You may be wondering what a ‘war of nerves’ means. Cool down! My dictionary defines it as a physical conflict in which one or more combatting parties use, especially demoralizing and frightening tactics, to attempt to dishearten one another.

When war broke out in South Sudan, many women were killed and others raped, children and elderly people were too killed. To everyone’s surprise, people were killed in the church, and buildings, utensils, cattle, and farms were destroyed. Which type of war do you think the warring parties were fighting for? They were fighting a ‘war of nerves.

Everybody, including those who think they won the war, became traumatized. No better place to take refuge in! The refugee camp in South Sudan was not different from that in Uganda or Kenya. Refugee camps were also war zones. Traumatization then exceeded war!

When peace was signed, war ceased, but traumatization refused to sign the cessation of hostilities! But one thing revokes peace implementation; Upper Nile and Unity States lodge pockets of rebels while Central Equatoria State lodges NAS. This continues to increase the number of IDPs and prevents refugees from returning to South Sudan to embrace peace. Though the sleeping reconciliation and healing committee was working, this would be a foreign body in its quest for trauma healing, thus prolonging the period of trauma.

Indeed, it begins with peace and ends with rehabilitation to heal the traumatized people. Peace is the mother of prosperity. It is peace and only peace that will restore the bond linking one community with another, thus redefining South Sudanese as one people.

It is peace that will give birth to democracy so that democracy gives room to equal representation in the government, bans one tribe from prospering at the expense of another, and above all, makes the citizens choose a leader of their choice. This is the formula for calculating one South Sudan, not 64 South Sudan.  This way, South Sudanese can become one people, inhabiting one nation where one’s problem is the problem of all.

After peace, wounds of war begin to heal, but for them to heal as rapidly as possible, therapies such as trauma healing and reconciliation should be administered. Reconciliation makes a wounded heart heal without heaped-up scars. Through reconciliation, grievances are aired out, and the flames in the heart decline burning, and that, space for forgiveness automatically creates itself and peace prevails at last.

2 Corinthians 5:18 says, all this is from God who, through Christ, reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. As the heart heals, rehabilitation is then needed to make a traumatized person gain back good health.

If the government does not see trauma as an afterbirth of war, then by the time peace is fully implemented, trauma shall have sent many people to the graveyard. Trauma healing does not need the warring parties to fly to Addis Ababa but needs them to go to Freedom Hall, discuss and unanimously agree on what to do to heal trauma.


The author is a medical student, University of Juba.

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