Time is Running Out

The race to help refugees in South Sudan – video

The race to help refugees in South Sudan – video

“Women wait in the heat for up to four hours twice a day, next to their long queues of buckets and jerry cans. Men with sticks and whips police the lines. Fights break out all the time. No one has to ask why. There is simply not enough water and we are running out of options and we are running out of time.” –Oxfam’s Pauline Ballman works in the Jamam Refugee Camp in South Sudan

Unity state has borne the brunt of aerial bombings by Sudan even after South Sudan had said it would withdraw from Heglig. On Monday, Sudanese warplanes bombed a market and an oil field in South Sudan, killing at least two people, after Sudanese ground forces reportedly crossed into South Sudan with tanks and artillery. There are numerous bombings taking place, just Wednesday, Sudan also bombed the village of Chotchara.

Since fighting broke out in Blue Nile state in Sudan between government forces and rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, about 85,000 people have fled into South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. The states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, where violence began last year, lie north of the border with South Sudan, and have populations who were aligned with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) during Sudan’s long civil war. Antonovs planes that bombed the refugees’ villages in Blue Nile have flown over Jamam camp, about 75km west of the border with Sudan, three times in the past week. Already the camp is barely coping with lack of water supplies with so many new people and now there are fears that more may arrive as conflict spreads. There is also the prospect of cholera breaking out as people drink dirty water to survive the dead heat. Time is running out!

The United States, spearheaded by Susan Rice said on Thursday it has drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at making legally binding an African Union demand that Sudan and South Sudan stop border clashes, resume talks and resolve their many disputes.

This comes after President Obama’s announcement of a new executive-branch initiative, the Atrocities Prevention Board to strengthen the United States’ ability to prevent mass atrocities. Watch Elie Wiesel’s Introduction and President Obama’s full remarks:

Fulfilling the Pledge of ‘Never Again’

Fulfilling the Pledge of ‘Never Again’

As much as proposals and resolutions create sound progress and policies, the change must be implemented on the ground because time is running out. Sudan needs to immediately halt aerial bombings of innocent people and we need to provide assistance to those who are suffering and on the brink of death.

The Worst We Feared: Sudan and South Sudan at War


On Friday Sudan launched a counterattack on South Sudan over the disputed territory of Heglig. Sudanese military spokesman Al Sawarmi Khaled Saad told reporters in Khartoum the army was close to Heglig, and is aiming not just to take over the area but also to destroy South Sudan’s forces in the area. A Unity State government spokesperson in the state capital Bentiu, confirmed the aerial bombings near the border:

“The areas in the north of Unity State are still subject to Antonovs (planes). We don’t have the updates yet between Heglig and Kelet, but all those areas they are subjected to bombing.” – South Sudan Spokesperson, Gideon Gatfan. South Sudan’s military spokesman Philip Aguer told Radio Dabanga that the Sudanese army is still around 30 km from Heglig and said South Sudan is still completely in control of the area.

Calls from Khartoum to mobilize for war in Heglig have reportedly failed amongst the Misseriya in two towns in South Kordofan, El Muglad and Dibab. Witnesses said the Misseriya of the western sector in South Kordofan are not willing to die for the government in a conflict they do not support.

The UN and African Union have unsuccessfully demanded immediate ceasefire, since President Bashir has refused to negotiate with Juba unless they withdraw their forces from Heglig. On the other hand, South Sudan’s lead negotiator, Pagan Amum, said his country was ready to withdraw under a UN-mediated plan.

“On the ground, we are ready to withdraw from Heglig as a contested area … provided that the United Nations deploy a UN force in these contested areas and the UN also establish a monitoring mechanism to monitor the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement,” he told reporters.

Sudan has taken it a brutal step further by targeting ethnically Southern Sudanese living in Sudan. Over 5,000 South Sudanese citizens living in a camp in the Sharef area of East Darfur were forced out, looted, and had their homes burned down and destroyed on Monday by a group of Sudanese militia. There have also been a series of rape crimes carried out by militias loyal to the Sudanese government throughout Darfur, targeting displaced girls and women in camps. It is as if there is no end to abuse and violence.

This long-lasting conflict is rooted in major disputes still not settled since South Sudan’s independence in July last year.

“They have no agreement on oil, they have no agreement on their border, they have no agreement on citizenship, they have no agreement on Abyei and indeed these were issues that were meant to be resolved before independence. Also in southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, the popular consultations in the political process which was to incorporate all the people of those regions into the larger Sudan were abandoned.” US ambassador Susan Rice

It might not be as simple as both countries coming to some sort of negotiation and resolution over these pertinent issues, but it would at least be a beginning to light at the end of the vicious tunnel.

Is Khartoum’s “New Strategy” the “final solution” for the Darfur problem?

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I had mixed feelings after seeing the following Facebook post from Ambassador Susan Rice. “Back from #Sudan. Situation very worrying. Parties have lots of work ahead. US will continue to do all we can to support peace and justice.”

I think many of us have known, and for quite a long time now, that the situation in Sudan is “very worrying”.  If ever there was a time to stay engaged, following the many ever-changing developments, the time is now.

If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out the recent piece by Eric Reeves:  Accommodating Genocide: The International Response to Khartoum’s “New Strategy for Darfur”.  With so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming referendum in Sudan, we have decided to hold an event in November that will allow us to hear directly from members of the local Sudanese community.  For now, please save the evening of Saturday, November 13th on your calendars and we will send full details soon.

Lastly, please note the International Criminal Court Alliance Annual Meeting from 4-7p this coming Thursday, October 14th .  The program entitled, “Will the New Changes to the ICC Treaty Make it Easier for the U.S. to Join?” (see details below) will include Gillian Sorensen, formerly United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, now Senior Advisor/National Advocate at the United Nations Foundation as keynote speaker.   A panel discussion with Cesare P.R. Romano (Professor of Law and W. Joseph Ford Fellow at Loyola Law School), David Kaye (the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Program at UCLA Law School and Director of its International Justice Clinic), and Gillian Sorensen, will be moderated by Edwin “Rip” Smith (Professor of Law at USC Law Center), and much more.

Thank you.

Barbara English
Orange County for Darfur, a project of Living Ubuntu
ocfordarfur.org | blog | facebook

PS: Our next OCFD meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday October 12th at 6:30p. Hope you can join us!

oct 2010 flyer

OC For Darfur planning meeting is this Tuesday, April 13th

On this occasion last year, marking 15 years since the start of Rwanda’s descent into the inferno of genocide, I bowed my head to acknowledge our faults and our inability to bring the victims back. I said then, “What we can do—both for the victims and for those whose daily lives are still marred by the aftereffects of the genocide—is to rededicate ourselves to our shared commitment to human rights and human dignity. We believe that in war, there are rules. We believe that even in the pursuit of power, there are limits. We believe that even in a violent world, there are rights. We must be voices for action, even if we are sometimes lonely ones.”

I believe that still, for now and forever. Ladies and gentlemen, we have both a duty to mourn and a duty to act. We have both a responsibility to remember and a responsibility to protect. Genocide is not unstoppable. Atrocities are not inevitable. They need not be part of the landscape of world politics—unless we let them be.

– Susan Rice, on the anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide
April 7 2010 (complete speech)

Hi everyone,

Thank you to all who were able to attend our screening of “Rebuilding Hope” this past Saturday. We had close to 50 people attend. For most of us, the most endearing part was having a heartfelt, honest discussion with Wai, Simon, Issac, Ivan and our other Sudanese friends afterward. Thank you for driving down all the way from San Diego to join us. We will be posting the pictures shortly.

The next OC For Darfur planning meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday April 13th at 6:30p. There is a change in the location for this week. We will be meeting at our Living Ubuntu office in Newport Beach. Here is the address:

Living Ubuntu’s office @ 6:30p (*different location this week)
1151 Dove St. #210
Newport Beach, CA 92660

We will discuss:

  • Update on what’s going on in Sudan, Congo and Burma.
  • Trip to San Diego this Saturday for the opening of Sudanese-American Youth Center.
  • Jewish World Watch OC Walk to End Genocide on April 25.
  • The United States and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

If you’d like to get involved, we hope you will join us on Tuesday.

Barbara & Anshul
Orange County for Darfur, a project of Living Ubuntu
ocfordarfur.org | blog | facebook

Darfur update: New United States policy for Sudan

Hi everyone,

The Obama Administration finally released their long-awaited official foreign policy on Sudan. Here is a quick summary. The administration’s policy lays out three strategic U.S. objectives:

  1. A definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses, and genocide in Darfur.
  2. Implementation of the North-South CPA that results in a peaceful post-2011 Sudan, or an orderly path toward two separate and viable states at peace with each other.
  3. Ensure that Sudan does not provide a safe haven for international terrorists.

You can watch the whole briefing by Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and General Scott Gration on the State Department blog. I highly recommend it.

On paper, this policy is a step in the right direction. However, the devil is in the details and we are concerned about it’s implementation. The Save Darfur Coaltion, Enough Project and GI-Net are holding a conference call tomorrow morning at 10a to discuss the implications of this new development. All details are below.

Also, there are quite a few events coming up this week that a few of us will be attending (details below). I hope you will join us.

Anshul Mittal
Orange County for Darfur
ocfordarfur.org | calendar | photos | shop | blog | facebook | twitter

Sudan Policy Review Conference Call
Tuesday, October 20th at 10:00a PST

Call-in Info: (877) 254 – 9825
Participant Code: There’s no code, just say that you’re calling in for the Sudan Policy Activist Call

Screening of “Worse Than War”

Thursday, October 22th at 7:00pm
Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, CA

Worse than War visits the sites of the worst mass slaughters of the 20th Century with Holocaust scholar Daniel Goldhagen. Encounter killers, survivors, witnesses, journalists and political leaders whose stories provide powerful insights into the scourge of genocide. Followed by a conversation with Rabbis Schulweis and Feinstein and Enough Project founder John Prendergast. RSVP at JewishWorldWatch.org

Ending Violence Against Women in Congo
Saturday, October 24th at 5p
6360 W. Sunset Blvd (between Vine and Ivar, with DeLongpre to the south)
Los Angeles, CA

Please join the Hollywood Film Festival and Enough Project for a symposium, “Ending Violence Against Women in Congo,” which will examine the root causes of the conflict and rape epidemic in Congo, and explore practical ways that American citizens and consumers can play a role in ending the violence. For more information, click here.

Darfur – Only “Remnants of Genocide”

What we see is the remnants of genocide.

Those words were spoken today by US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration whose recent trip to Darfur did not convince him that a genocide is TAKING place – only that a genocide TOOK place.

Gration also remarked that the humanitarian gap caused by Sudan’s expulsion of major aid groups in March has been “essentially closed”.

Perhaps Gration is simply trying to exhibit optimism. Perhaps he’s out to improve the image of Sudan.

Whatever the reason behind his words today, I’m left confused.

Just two days ago, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice called Darfur a present “genocide”. Less than two weeks ago, the man who appointed Gration, US President Barack Obama, referred to Darfur as a “genocide that’s taking place”.

How can people working together lack consensus on something like this? Yes, Darfur was a genocide in 2003. It was a genocide in 2006. And it is a genocide today. The means of carrying out the genocide may have changed but the motive is the same.

Rape – A Weapon of War

Today, an expert spoke with several US senators about a common weapon of war.

No, that weapon was not guns nor was it bombs. It was rape.

Rape is far too often used as a means of bringing down the enemy during a war – as is the case currently in Darfur and the Congo (DRC).

1100 rapes are reported in the Congo every month – that’s 36 women and girls victimized each day! And just think about the number of incidents that go unreported.

According to the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues –

Rape is employed as a weapon because it is effective…it destroys the fabric of society from within and does so more efficiently than do guns or bombs…the apparent purpose is to leave a lasting and inerasable signal to others that the woman has been violated.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice plans to travel to Africa to discuss the issue of rape in war-torn societies – an issue referred to as a “shame on the human race” by California senator Barbara Boxer.

Also today – the US was elected to the UN Human Rights Council. Let’s hope we make the most of it.