News / Africa

Aid Groups Warn Leaders at Sudan Summit Not to Overlook Violence in Region

TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Onyiego

World leaders have gathered in New York to help push negotiations regarding southern Sudan's referendum on secession. With just over 100 days until the vote, critical issues such as border demarcation and voter registration have not been settled. But aid groups say issues such as southern violence and poverty could spark further conflict if not seriously addressed.

As the January 11 referendum on South Sudan approaches, observers worldwide are raising concerns that time may be running out on the critical vote. Voter registration has yet to begin and political deadlock has stalled over critical issues such as border demarcation and oil-sharing.

Southern Sudan is widely expected to choose independence in the January vote and, in an effort to ensure a peaceful split, world leaders will bring together representatives from the North and South to jumpstart talks on those critical issues.  The discussions have drawn significant international attention and will be attended by presidents from across east Africa and Europe as well as U.S. President Barack Obama.

But a collection of humanitarian aid agencies working in Sudan warned that issues of security and development were being overlooked in the global discussions. A representative from UK-based Oxfam, Alun McDonald, says the political issues have overshadowed ongoing violence in the region.

"Amid all of the politics, what tends to get overlooked is the violence that people in South Sudan, people in Darfur are still facing and could potentially face more of in the run up to and after the referendum," said Alun McDonald. "So they really need to be talking about how to ensure it goes peacefully and how to protect civilians in Sudan from that violence."

In a statement released Friday, Oxfam, the International Rescue Committee, Tearfund, World Vision and Christian Aid warned the next few months would be critical for ensuring peace and stability both before and after the election.

While international attention is focused on North-South tensions, three separate rebellions in the south have been sparked by internal grievances in recent months. At least one of these conflicts, in Jonglei State, is ongoing and Geneva-based Small Arms Survey warns that all three represent grievances which could destabilize the south after independence.

McDonald also warned that poverty and development needed to be addressed before peace was possible.

"Southern Sudan is incredibly poor," he said. "It is one of the poorest, least developed regions in the world. People do not have access to clean water, schools, hospitals, none of the basic services that have been discussed in New York already this week are available in southern Sudan for most people. I do not think any peace deal can be really sustainable, can last, unless that kind of poverty and lack of development is addressed."

But McDonald says it was not too late to ensure a peaceful referendum. The Oxfam representative said high level talks could provide stability and restart dialogue between the North and South. But McDonald said long-term discussion about development and security should begin immediately to ensure a peace both before and after the referendum.

The January vote is part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended more than 20 years of civil war in 2005. The goal of the agreement was to make unity attractive through resource sharing and southern development, but the government of South Sudan says Khartoum has failed to live up to the agreement.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid