martes, julio 08, 2008

Cuba-trained doctors best hope for South Sudan.

By SKYE WHEELER,
JUBA, Sudan, Sunday, Jul 06, 2008 22:33 PM (EAT)
They left as children and teenagers, crossing the border between dry southern Sudan and Ethiopia before being transported half a world away to the green strangeness of Cuba’s Isla de la Juventud.
Now more than two decades later, some of the 600 children who were sent to Cuba for education during Sudan’s north-south conflict are home, speaking Spanish, dancing salsa and working to rebuild their land after Africa’s longest civil war.
Among those who have returned -- the so-called “Cubans” -- are 15 doctors, including Daniel Madit, who left in 1986 aged 11. He was already a sergeant in the south’s rebel army.
We were not forced to leave, we were sent on a mission and it is not completed,” he said at the end of a refresher course he was taking before starting to work in the south.
When Dr Madit left, rebels in the mainly Christian south, supported by Marxist Ethiopia, were fighting soldiers of the mainly Muslim north in a war over ideology, resources, ethnicity and religion, that was to claim more than two million lives.
As a client state of the Soviet bloc, Ethiopia had long-standing ties with Cuba. Cuba, for its part, provided support to socialist guerrilla movements and regimes in Africa,” said Carol Berger, a former journalist and anthropologist now completing a doctorate at the University of Oxford.
The SPLA (southern rebel group) was one of those movements which received basic education and military training inside Cuba. While the SPLA was never noted for having much of an ideological position, for at least the first decade of the war, Cuba was considered a loyal and generous ally,” said Ms Berger.
A north-south peace deal was finally signed in 2005. The southern Sudanese, who had been educated in Cuba but then stuck in limbo for years as their host country’s economy collapsed, the rebels at home split and the war dragged on, began to return, some after years as refugees in Canada.
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Additional Information: Cuba to Juba: south Sudanese doctors come home.
Photo: Dr Martha Martin Dar, a southern Sudanese doctor trained in Cuba, attends to patients at Juba Teaching Hospital in Juba June 14, 2008. They left as children and teenagers, crossing the border between dry southern Sudan and Ethiopia before being transported half a world away to the green strangeness of Cuba's Isla de la Juventud. Now, more than two decades later, some of them are back, working as doctors. REUTERS/Skye Wheeler