We were given a first report about the difficult political situation in South Sudan a few days ago, news on international networks follow each other in a frantic mode and not in a good way towards a solution.
We asked Massimo Z81B and Diya Z81D, only amateurs residing in the Country, tell us about the situation from their amateur radio point of view.
Below what we wrote:
Thanks for your interest in South Sudan.
While we (Z81B & Z81D) are doing well, our thoughts go to those who lost their life in the recent crisis. They are many. More are suffering as we write you on Christmas’ eve 2013.
On the night of the 15 December 2013, people in Juba heard several gunshots. In the hours and days that followed, the gunshots became mortar explosions and movement of tanks. Our professional positions do not allow us to provide details, or comments on the causes of the clashes. As a matter of fact, the fighting caused the displacement of thousands of harmless civilians.
In Juba, 20.000 people (UN’s statistics as of 24/12/2013) sought protection in UN bases alone. The clashes continued for days and civilians resumed some movements only around 19/12/2013, in search of food and water. While the situation is now normalizing in the capital, fighting is breaking out in other states of South Sudan.
From the very first moments of the crisis, exchanging information was key. South Sudan has no telephone land-lines and the voice/text GSM networks were soon overwhelmed. Broadcast radios still struggle to keep information up to date. The main information flew through Twitter and WhatsApp via GPRS. Most offices circulated the first information via satellite telephones and VHF/HF networks.
On 23/12/2013, Eng. Virginio Kenyi Lemena (Deputy Director for Telecommunications, Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services) gave us a good account of the situation: -We live in fear. I came back to the office yesterday, in order to transmit a sense of normality. Now the situation is peaceful in Juba, but we hear worrying news from Unity and Jonglei states. We are left with praying that Christmas brings peace and that the international community helps us-.
Humanitarian responses and diplomatic efforts are ongoing. However, the situation remains difficult, with accounts of UN personnel killed while serving the civilians.
In these conditions, the Dxcoffe readers won’t be surprised if we won’t transmit on the amateur radio bands for a while. Diya is still in South Sudan, while Massimo is in Europe. Our radio equipment have been shipped away in order to avoid misunderstandings with the parties involved in the conflict.
We hope that the days of dialogue come soon.
We know that some time will pass before friends like OH2BH, OH0XX, DL3DXX, K4ZW, N7NG, OH2PM, OH6KN, PB2T, Z81A, will come back to South Sudan to play the radio, or support the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services.
In line with the spirit of our friends who visited South Sudan, we wish the Country tolerance, collaboration and understanding among diverse people. These are things that radio amateurs practice every day on the airwaves.
Massimo Z81B & Diya Z81D