News / Africa

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

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 In US, Decision Expected Soon in Racially Charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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 Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid