Tag Archives: Abyei

Disputed African region faces hunger emergency

A generation of children in South Sudan are growing up in hunger and without education. There is hope for some children with school feeding provided by the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

So far this year, WFP has fed about 192,000 children in South Sudan with meals in schools that are still open. When WFP sees an area where hunger rates are high, they set up school feeding to help. It’s a food for education initiative.

If you can feed children at school, that encourages parents to send their children. The promise of a free meal at school means everything in area where hunger and poverty are so high. School meals are considered a safety net for the poor.

Around 20,000 school girls are receiving take-home rations as well. This improves school attendance rates among girls, which are historically lower.

Overall, the school feeding is an effective way to feed children and allow them to stay in school. This keeps the children safe from recruitment into armed forces and other dangers.

WFP relies on voluntary donations to keep school feeding and other food programs operating. They need donations more than ever in areas struck by conflict like South Sudan.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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South Sudan and the War of 1812

This child in Sudan is receiving food aid from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Many more children in the world are in need of food safety nets. (NRC Sudan)

At a Senate hearing in March, actor and Sudan activist George Clooney was asked about how to keep Americans, especially youth, engaged with the conflict and hunger in South Sudan. Can people here in the U.S. feel a sustained connection to a country many thousands of miles away?

Imagine for a moment a country that has recently gained its independence. War, territorial and boundary disputes, and the inability of the young government to cope with emergencies are the tragic realities.

Cities and towns have come under assault from their northern neighbor, forcing civilians to flee their homes in terror. Farmers have been forced away from their land by armies, thus ruining food production.

What you just read would describe South Sudan today. The description could also fit the United States during the War of 1812.

For when the United States was a young nation, like South Sudan now, it experienced war on its soil. This year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron talked about at their White House meeting in March. During that war the British burned the White House to the ground. After the War of 1812 had ended, little by little the two sides moved away from conflict and toward partnership.

The Rush-Bagot Agreement of 1817 disarmed the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, which during the war were the scene of naval battles and fierce bombardments on coastal towns. A naval arms race was averted. This allowed the U.S. border with the British colony of Canada to develop in peace rather than diverting resources into costly warships which might have provoked a new war.

One of the most tense standoffs between Britain and the U.S. in the decades after the War of 1812 was over who owned the Oregon Territory of the Northwest. In 1846 veteran diplomat Albert Gallatin, one of the peace commissioners during the War of 1812, published an essay urging calm between the two rivals. His words for peace were what any standoff needs to get resolved.

Today, South Sudan is faced with building peace with their neighbor Sudan. The two sides fought a civil war that ended in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. But this agreement has a long way to go before becoming a genuine peace.

Last summer, fighting erupted between South Sudan and Sudan over the disputed territory of Abyei. A United Nations Security Force has been dispatched for the demilitarizing of Abyei and to ensure protection and humanitarian aid for civilians.

In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, fighting is raging. U.S. Ambassador Princeton Lyman says “conflict has been raging there since last May, arising from issues never fully resolved in the civil war because people in those states, particularly in the Nuba mountains, fought with the South.”

There is also internal conflict in South Sudan between rival tribes, the Lou Nuer and the Murle, that has displaced many thousands of people in the Jonglei state. These two tribes have repeatedly attacked each other over the years through cattle raids and kidnappings. The scale of their battles, though, has increased substantially in recent months.

In May a peace conference is set to begin to deal with this deadly rivalry. Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, head of the Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance in Jonglei Committee, says, “I am expecting everybody who loves peace to participate in this process because we have lost so many people. I hope everybody will come, sit together and try to find a lasting solution for the problems.”

There is an initiative underway to collect the guns that have proliferated in Jonglei and there are plans for a buffer zone between the Lou Nuer and the Murle to help transition to peace.

Deng Bul says, “It is important for all citizens not to carry arms because the arms are tempting [people] to unnecessary actions. If we want to have development in Jonglei, we must make sure that everybody is not carrying a gun.”

South Sudan desperately needs its own peacemakers before it’s too late. The internal and external conflict has harmed the region’s food supply. Drought has also struck. These two elements, combined with preexisting poverty, are creating a hunger crisis approaching famine. The UN World Food Programme, which relies on voluntary funding, says nearly five million people in South Sudan are suffering from hunger. Food is desperately needed to reinforce the peace process.

South Sudan needs the United States and others to stay with them during these rough waters as it tries to build a road to peace.

As we mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, students and other citizens can take time to reflect on the peace with Britain that emerged from the ashes. This learning adventure in American history can also offer a way for students and others to connect with South Sudan. How can this newly independent nation build their own road to peace?

For what the governor of Ohio, Thomas Worthington, proclaimed after the War of 1812 rings true. Worthington said we must seek the day “when bloody wars engendered in pride and wickedness, and prosecuted in fury and unrighteousness, shall forever cease, and when every human being, in the true spirit of humanity, meekness and charity,shall do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with his God.”

Article first published as South Sudan and the War of 1812 on Blogcritics.

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Big East Basketball to Shine Light on War-torn and Hungry Sudan

By 1 June, about 40,000 people displaced from Abyei after the town's takeover by Sudan Armed Forces had been registered in the Abyei area, Unity State and the greater Bahr El-Ghazal region and were receiving humanitarian assistance. Photos: UNMIS/Issac Gideon.

This Wednesday, when Villanova University squares off against Seton Hall, you can expect another competitive Big East Conference basketball game. This game will differ from others in that it will seek to build support for Peace in Sudan.

Villanova and Seton Hall are partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in “Playing for Peace” to help bring an end to conflict, hunger and suffering in Sudan and South Sudan. Sudan and South Sudan fought a decades-long civil war that ended in 2005 with a peace agreement. However, violence has continued and the agreement has not been fully implemented.

Peace activism will take place throughout the game. Students will be handed a flyer showing how they can help by contacting the White House and urging the administration to support the peace process.

South Sudan became the world’s newest country last July, gaining independence from Sudan. However, peace in the region remains elusive as conflict and border tensions continue. It is critical that UN peacekeeping missions be supported and fully funded to protect civilians, and help establish conditions to build a lasting peace and development.

A peacekeeping mission called UNISFA was deployed to Abyei, which is a disputed territory on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. This oil rich region is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, and fighting has taken place there for years despite the 2005 agreement. UNISFA is there to make sure the area is demilitarized and made safe for civilians.

The threats go beyond the guns. Hunger and poverty still dominate the countryside. Drought often harms food production efforts and malnutrition is a major threat to children. Displacement from conflict makes this situation even more desperate. Conflict exists not only between South Sudan and Sudan, but also between rival tribes.

At this very moment, aid agencies are trying to help 50,000 displaced persons in the Jonglei State of South Sudan. CRS reports that the ethnic conflict between the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes has claimed an estimated 1,000 lives in the past six months. One of the driving forces behind this internal conflict is the lack of resources. Hunger and poverty feed desperation and violence.

Isaac Boyd of CRS Sudan says, “After nearly four decades of working in Sudan and South Sudan, CRS recognizes that sustainable development and peace are tightly interwoven. To contribute to a lasting improvement in the level of basic services and economic opportunities available to people throughout South Sudan, it is imperative to support communities to find meaningful, concrete ways to resolve their differences and put an end to destructive conflict. Simultaneously, tensions between groups are often exacerbated by the scarcity of basic services like access to water, schools, or health clinics. Development and peace have to happen at the same time.”

Will there be enough resources for aid agencies to reinforce the drive for peace? CRS is sponsoring emergency aid as well as long-term food security projects. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is reporting that its 2012 relief operation for South Sudan is short 179 million dollars. WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations from governments and the public.

Without food, children in Sudan will suffer lasting physical and mental damage, thereby stunting the next generation. Without food for schoolchildren, education will suffer. A national school lunch program still needs to be established.

Playing for Peace is part of a series of events about Sudan sponsored by Villanova University. For more information, please visit the CRS newswire.

Article first published as Big East Basketball to Shine Light on War-Torn and Hungry Sudan on Blogcritics.

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