The Lost Boys of Sudan: Ambiguous Loss, Search for Family, and Reestablishing

Displacement of people and separation of families have been common occurrences across the globe with common realization during wars. Initial example for such displacements and separations had been realized during the world wars. Sudan, at the brink of its war in the last decades of the twentieth century also experienced such family displacement and separation as rebel groups from the Southern region fought against government forces.

The consequences were significant on civilians who were either killed or displaced. This paper seeks to give a reaction to a research paper titled The Lost boys of Sudan. The paper will look into the writers’ opinions about the circumstances that have faced the youth and offer a critique.

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Separation

The article represents three major types of separations as was realized by the children. Major separations were caused by attacks on civilians by both government and rebel forces. Separation of children from their parents was also caused by their parents giving them up and sending them to deeper regions of Southern Sudan which were considered to be safer. Such displacements however led to the movements of civilians to refugee camps in neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya.

The circumstances that led to the separation of the children from their family having been an act of war between the government of Sudan and rebel forces presented humanitarian challenges that had to force people to move from their homes owing to the fact that the war was military based with the civilians being left with no party to protect them.

The first cause of displacement was caused by attacks by government forces on people and this attracts more criticisms than established by the writers. One of the functions of a government is the protection of its people and this obligation is internationally recognized regardless of any difference of opinion that the people may have contrary to the opinion held by the government or its agencies.

The government of Sudan was thus in violation of international laws of justice by having ordered or even tolerated moves by its forces to attack its citizens. Though the next category of attacks was by rebels in response to moves by government forces, it also illustrated a weakness on the side of the government of Sudan.

Contrary to having its forces attack civilians, the government was supposed to contain any form of rebel uprising that could cause harm to its citizens. This could have been initially achieved through establishing democratic processes to meet the grievances that the rebels had against the government and forging a united country (Luster, Desiree, Bates, Johnson and Meenal 4).

Separations on the grounds of parents sending their children off on the other hand draw reactions from two points of view. It can be argued that parents were justified to ensuring the safety of their children at all costs and that included moving the children to safer places if the residence became unsafe.

Though parents can move with their children to identified safer places to avoid separation of families, factors can hinder such family movements.

Economic factors such as fears of instability which may lead to suffering from hunger can however hinder movements in totality forcing parents to send only their children away as they struggle to maintain their lives in the risky regions. Forces in the conflicts, such as the rebel militia, could also have restricted movements of adults, who could be recruited as personnel in the forces.

It would however be better if parents moved with their children to establish a new life in a family environment, even if it means to live in a refugee camp. This could cause less psychological harm to children who suffered due to uncertainty of the existence of their parents and other relatives (Luster et al. 4).

Relationships in the refugee camps

The lost boys are reported to have received warm welcome in the process of moving from their homes and even in the camps where they settled in the neighboring countries. Reports of the children joining hospitable families along their journey to refugee camps and good treatments by members of their clans who they found in the camps were recorded.

This warmth from the children’s clansmen offered a consolation to them (children). The representation of supportive adults in the process of escaping violence and in the camps as illustrated by the writers however draws some inconsistencies.

First and foremost, the ability of adults to flee their homes into camps would negatively portray parents who did not move away with their children to offer them protection and support. It can be argued that such parents were irresponsible to an extent of endangering the lives of their children by failing to even accompany them to the camps.

The representation of a supportive elderly category of adults from the clans of the children in the refugee camps was also not well based. Just like one of the children was taken into a family on his way to a camp, the elderly population that already lived in the camps should have extended their support to the children to offer them parental care.

Since they were from the same clans, the adults should have organized themselves to try and absorb the destitute children into their families. This could have helped the children to acquire better psychological stability due to existence of some parental care even in the absence of their real parents. The children were on the contrary left without such care and they had to organize themselves into forming families of children.

The writers were thus not discrete enough in their presentation of the level of care that the children got in the camps. I feel that the adults should have looked beyond the barriers at the camps to extend the African culture of communal ownership of children to help the displaced children in the camps to cope with their situations (Luster et al. 5).

Searching for families

The lost children are reported to have employed both informal and formal techniques to search for their family members. Use of letters and the later developed technologies such as the internet were some of the tools that were employed to assist in the search.

Informal communication as illustrated by the writers in which new arrivals into the camps gave information to the boys about their parents raises questions about the level of care that the parents had for their children who they had sent away. It was not for example explained why the parents of the children never made it to the camps when there were chances and other people were moving into these camps.

It was also explained that the informal information that was received was never directly sent by the relatives but general information that the new arrivals in the refugee camps had. This discredits the authenticity of the research on the basis of inconsistency.

The fact that there was a link through Red Cross between the camps and the volatile regions in Sudan and the presentation that some of the children were sent away by parents on the basis of care and steps to protect the children from harm should have ensured a follow up through Red Cross to establish the conditions of the children.

There is on the contrary no communication from parents or relatives and only the children were initiating attempts for contacts. The search for families which is identified to have been more effective after some of the boys had moved to the United States is also not very convincing.

Though individuals in the United States could have realized a change in how they connected with each other in the new place and even back at home, connectivity among people in the refugee camps is not expected to have drastically improved just on the basis that some individuals moved to a different country (Luster et al. 7).

Reestablishing relationships

An outline of the reestablishments of families on the basis of use of more easily available technology however indicated consistency as well as the varied reactions from either sides as the boys connected with their families (Luster et al. 7).

Conclusion

Though the research outlines a wide scope that covers experiences of the children from refugee camps in Africa to their new life in America, it leaves some aspects unexplained over the relationships between the boys and their parents. This discredits the research on the basis of incorrect information from the sources.

Work Cited

Luster, Tom., Desiree Qin., Bates, Laura., Johnson, Deborah and Meenal, Rana. The Lost Boys: Ambigious Loss, Search for Family, and Reestablishing Relationships with family members. Find Article, 2008. Web.