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Oscar winner Forest Whitaker praises youth of violence-torn South Sudan

By Bongani Mthethwa | 2017-05-05 07:11:48.0

  • U.S. actor Forest Whitaker participates in the Acholi tribe's traditional dance during his visit to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub region, in Gulu town, northern Uganda May 2, 2017. REUTERS/James Aken

  • U.S. actor Forest Whitaker participates in the Acholi tribe's traditional dance during his visit to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub region, in Gulu town, northern Uganda May 2, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena

  • U.S. actor Forest Whitaker participates in the Acholi tribe's traditional dance during his visit to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub region, in Gulu town, northern Uganda May 2, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena

  • U.S. actor Forest Whitaker hugs one of the youth beneficiaries during his visit to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub region, in Gulu town, northern Uganda May 2, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena

  • U.S. actor Forest Whitaker speaks during his visit to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub region, in Gulu town, northern Uganda May 2, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena

  • Acholi traditional dancers perform a local dance during U.S. actor Forest Whitaker's visit to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub region, in Gulu town, northern Uganda May 2, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena

  • U.S. actor Forest Whitaker smiles during his visit to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub region, in Gulu town, northern Uganda May 2, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena

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Hollywood actor Forest Whitaker has described the youth of South Sudan as remarkably resilient as they deal with an ongoing conflict that has driven more than three million people from their homes in the east African country.

The Oscar-winning actor was talking on saving lives in South Sudan at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Durban on Thursday evening.

Whitaker‚ 55‚ is a United Nations Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation‚ and his charity work in South Sudan is done through the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative‚ which is partnering with Education Above All as well as Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict.

The actor is well-known for his portrayal of former Ugandan president Idi Amin in the 2006 movie “The Last King of Scotland“‚ for which he earned an Oscar.

It was during this film that he learnt more about the plight of former child soldiers‚ which led him to setting up charity work in South Sudan.

His work in South Sudan includes a programme to train the youth in conflict resolution‚ ICT technologies‚ life skills and entrepreneurship.

Whitaker was in the war-torn country recently to check on the programmes that he has put in place‚ to launch a second programme in Yambio and to address university students about the need to resolve the conflict.

“I have to say that South Sudan youth is very resilient‚ very strong and have a very powerful spirit amidst the difficult time in the country‚” said Whitaker.

He said in a country where 1.8-million have been displaced and 1.7-million are refugees‚ the youth are aware “there is frustration‚ there is food insecurity“.

“The youth have talked to me about insecurity along the roads‚ dealing with both sides of the confrontation. There are issues of water‚ food aid‚ issues of sanitation‚ issues of health‚ all those basic needs. But again‚ among the youth I am working with‚ there is resiliency and power of belief. I definitely believe in the youth on the ground being the advocates of peace‚” said Whitaker.

One of the main challenges the actor said they are faced with in South Sudan is the life-threatening situation because of the ongoing conflict‚ which has resulted in some companies which were part of his programme withdrawing out of fear. There are also technology issues and access problems “where you can’t pass certain roads“.

 

-TMG Digital

 

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