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

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.