March 21, 2017 – For the last two days, news about South Sudan have spread across the Pakistani Capital, Islamabad, after Pakistani petroleum engineers’ lives became at risk in South Sudan’s main oilfield, Palouch.
At least one Pakistani citizen, Ayaz Hussain Jamali, and two Indian oil workers were kidnapped in Palouch oil fields by anti-government forces within this month.
The insecurity in South Sudan’s oil fields has sent strong signals to Pakistan and India, leaving citizens of those countries Googling to find out more information about this unknown country and safety of their citizens who have unknowingly landed in what is now a war zone.
One Pakistani citizen, who has been to South Sudan was interviewed yesterday on the news in Islamabad about South Sudan and here is what he had to say:
“There are no roads in South Sudan. There is only one road (one) out of the capital. There has been a civil war with the north for two decades and no one respects the rules of war. Five million in South Sudan do not know where their next meal will come from.” Said the Pakistani citizen.
“In this lawless land there is no government to talk to. Only America is feeding them. Maybe Pakistan would like to help us with food distribution. Everyone knows that South Sudan is not a safe place to work in. The people are isolated in a war zone. Militias are looting the food banks. You may think [South] Sudan is a Muslim country. Maybe the family is confused. Sudan is a Muslim country, but South Sudan is not a Muslim country. The Jamali family probably believes it is. The bad news is that South Sudan is a killing field where human life means nothing.” He continued.
This description is a no news to South Sudanese themselves but to Jamali and other Pakistani families, who have relatives in South Sudan, could be heart wrenching.
Ayaz Hussein Jamali and his brother Bahar Jamali have worked in this risky oil fields since 2014, however, on Sunday, March 19th, Ayaz felt into rebels’ ambush and was taken to unknown destination leaving his brother and other foreign oil workers worried of their safety.
The foreign oil workers, who have undermined anti-government forces’ warnings, are being accused of having taken part in South Sudan’s conflict by exploiting oil and other resources in favour of one party – the government.
South Sudan conflict which is now in its forth year began in 2013 with no signs that it could end any time soon.
The rebels control vast areas in both Upper Nile and Equatoria regions, the two richest regions that harbours oil, minerals and routes to East Africa, which is considered to be the bread basket of South Sudan.
Government attempts to secure the oil fields and main routes throughout the country have failed so far.
Despite a peace agreement that has now collapsed, defections continued almost every month for the last three and half years, and fighting between warring factions led by President Salva Kiir and his former Deputy, Dr. Riek Machar, continue to intensify.
The government has launched many offensives at the beginning of this year, hoping to capture more territories from the rebels, however, fighting has only displaced more citizens from areas that were relatively peaceful with very little progress.