News / Africa

Security Concerns Remain as Southern Sudan Approaches 2011 Referendum

Michael Onyiego

A recent report on disarmament indicates a security vacuum exists in parts of southern Sudan that could plague the region as it approaches the 2011 referendum. 

As voting draws to a close in Sudan's first multiparty elections in more than 24 years, the prospect of an independent southern Sudan draws closer.

The elections are the last major step in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement before a 2011 referendum in the south to determine whether it remains part of Sudan or forms its own state.

The peace agreement, which was signed in 2005, ended more than 20 years of fighting between Sudan's government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.  

Many hope that the south will be able to tap into its vast natural resources, which include oil, to drive development in the region.

But a recent Issue Brief released by the Geneva-based Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment project says that southern Sudan must continue to disarm and provide badly needed resources to its security forces if it is to ensure stability.

The Issue Brief is based on the results of a 2009 survey of 2,400 households in southeastern Sudan. 

Disarmament and securtiy

According to the brief, disarmament remains one of the south's most pressing concerns.  The government of southern Sudan has been attempting to disarm the region since the signing of the peace agreement, but the process has been difficult.

Almost 40 percent of the households surveyed admitted to owning firearms.  The survey indicated doubts about the government's ability to provide security have hampered the disarmament  initiative.

The survey found only 27 percent of the respondents relied on the police force for protection in the region.  The majority instead relied upon traditional leaders for safety.

Security consultant and author of the report Irina Mozel says this attitude stems from a lack of government support for the police of southern Sudan.  

"The preparation for elections has enhanced some of the means and resources available, especially for the police," said Mozel. "But there are huge challenges, which still remain with regard to the police.  Specifically because both donors and the government have not focused enough on building up a strong police force, which has led to the current security vacuum."

Much of the violence in the surveyed region stems from resource scarcity.  Cattle theft and the ensuing cycles of revenge are a constant cause of unrest in Eastern Equatoria.

The report urges the government of southern Sudan to address the causes of violence in the region through community engagement.  According to the Issue Brief, the cooperation of traditional community leaders with police can help to ensure peace in the region.

If the south achieves independence in 2011, more resources and attention can potentially be focused on security in states like Eastern Equatoria.  But Mozel says that international assistance will be needed in the interim as the buildup of an effective police force could take up to 10 years.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs