by Sara Fajardo, CRS communications officer The March 2 and 5 attacks in the contested oil rich region of Abyei, Sudan, have led to estimates of more than 100 dead and 20,000-25,000, nearly half the population, deserting Abyei town. Abyei is proving to be one of the most difficult areas to resolve between northern and southern Sudan: both lay claims to the land. Previous incidences in May, 2008, in which Abyei town was attacked and burned have left people concerned that the violence might escalate. According to our church contacts in the region, people are moving south of Abyei, along the Kiir River. While the city has been almost completely evacuated, the security situation in the areas south of Abyei where people have set up temporary homes remains stable. Initial reports show that the majority of people have fled to the neighboring community of Agok. Many of the people who […]
by Renee Lambert, Emergency Coordinator Young Sudanese polling officials sat inside a small two room school, silently unfolding ballots while national and international observers looked on. It was just after 7 pm, the polls had closed 2 hours earlier. Outside the school the sun was setting, so the polling officials were counting by the light of small lanterns. Shadows of the young officials unfolding ballots bounced off the walls of the small room and goose bumps covered my arms as I realized the significance of what I was witnessing. My eyes had already welled with tears more times in the past week than could be counted on both hands, but this did not stop them from tearing up again. And I knew that what I was feeling wasn’t even a fraction of what the Sudanese polling officials and observers must be feeling.
By Sara A. Fajardo Click here to view more pictures. Watching the southern Sudanese line up to cast their ballots has been a lesson in civic-duty. Eric Keri, a tall lanky 50 year-old father of 10, refused to leave Sudan until the last day of the vote. Despite having family in neighbouring Uganda he chose to spend the holiday season alone. He feared some mishap would not get him back to Juba in time to mark with a thumbprint, his choice for Sudan’s future: for either the south to remain united with northern Sudan, or to secede and form the world’s newest nation. It was a resolve shared with members of his entire family– each of them voted, some in such far-flung countries as Australia, the U.S. and Uganda.
By Sara A. Fajardo-Henning At 7 a.m. in the morning the Juba port bristles with early morning rooster calls, women laundering along the banks of the Nile, and young children stirring on bed mats where they nestle like kittens in their temporary open-air bedrooms. They arrived by the hundreds, these Sudanese who meandered down the serpentine turns of Africa’s most famous river for close to 15 days. They brought with them everything the boats could carry: writing desks, stoves, mattresses, and tea kettles – essential in boiling up comforting cups of morning tea while boiling away the diseases pulled up from the Nile’s murky waters.
By Sara Fajardo in Juba for Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a member of Caritas from the USA)
by Karina O’Meara as told to Sara A. Fajardo It was mid-morning when we arrived to the Juba River Port last week and it was jostling with the sounds of people unloading bedding, horses, cars, and cooking supplies, from the four open-air containers that flanked a large passenger boat. An estimated 700 people had made the up to 15-day journey from Khartoum and Kosti to reach southern Sudan’s largest city. Each day thousands of people have been flooding into Juba and other main cities throughout southern Sudan, in the lead up to the referendum vote. People arrive on boats, planes, and buses daily.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa is part of an ecumenical monitoring team in southern Sudan as people cast their ballots to decide on self-determination. He accompanied Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro of Juba to vote. (Footage by Sara Fajardo/Catholic Relief services).
Dan Griffin, CRS senior adviser for Sudan is in Juba, the capital city of southern Sudan, during the referendum process. Between jet lag and excitement I’m wide awake by 4:00am. The CRS guesthouse is not far from St. Theresa’s Cathedral. I can hear the choir coming to the end of an all night vigil. Even closer is the polling centre for this area, the Kator section of Juba. At 5:00 a.m. I can hear police and soldiers giving instructions to assembled voters. By dawn the line extends for a hundred yards before wrapping around the block. By 8:00 a.m. the polling centres are reporting voluminous crowds. President Salva Kiir cast his ballot on the morning news. In stark contrast to celebrations in Juba, reports are coming in of violence over the weekend in Abyei and Unity state. More than 40 casualties are confirmed. Initial reports speak of contained violence. Voting will [...]
[slideshow]By Sara A. Fajardo, CRS Communications Officer in Juba People began arriving long before dawn. Some were rumored to have spent the night. By the time we arrived several hundred men and women snaked the grounds of St. Kizito parish in Juba, Sudan. The men stood in one line. The women stood in another. Many carried radios and listened for news of the turnout to Sudan’s historic vote in their home counties. Women whispered, radios hummed, and a few tired children whimpered as they nestled into their mother’s welcoming backs. All waited patiently. Their time had come. It was time for them to cast their ballot. This was there once-in-a-lifetime chance to vote to decide whether or not southern Sudan will secede from the north or remain united with northern Sudan. “I thought I’d be the first,” the men chimed happily, “I was here at 5 this [...]
Dan Griffin, CRS senior adviser for Sudan is in Juba, the capital city of southern Sudan, during the referendum process. He filed this report the day before the beginning of the historic vote. I arrived in Juba for the fifth time in a year’s time, Saturday morning at 10:30am. From the very beginning, I knew this trip would be different. I first came to Africa twenty years ago this month. I started working on Sudan issues more than ten years ago, working for the Catholic Diocese of Torit as a Justice and Peace Coordinator for at a time Sudan was famous for having neither. Flying back this time, reading reports of the preparations for the referendum starting the following day, I was struck how my own sense of the geography of Sudan has been shaped by its suffering. I first learned place names from reports on where atrocities occurred. I learned [...]
Caritas asked for prayers as part of the 101 days of prayer campaign for the people of Sudan and the challenges and possibilities that lie ahead of them in the hope that they will achieve a lasting peace. The idea was to spread an encouraging word of peace as wide as possible, reaching all the people of Sudan, without any distinction between southerners and northerners Caritas supporters in parishes and schools around the world joined justice and peace groups, religious congregations, and many others in taking part in the prayer campaign. Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference Seceretary General Fr. Santino Maurino Morokimomo said, “We are grateful to the solidarity shown with the people of Sudan throughout the 101 Days of Prayer campaign. It’s been really important knowing that there are many thousands joining in prayer with us around the world for a new dawn of peace in Sudan. It has given us hope [...]
Southern Sudan decides its own future 9 January in referenda on whether to remain within a unified Sudan or to secede. Caritas hopes that whatever the outcome, it succeeds in bringing healing to the nation and resolves differences that have led to so many years of conflict. However, Caritas is concerned about a tensions surrounding the referenda and is prepared for a rapid humanitarian response should conflict return. With 1.5 million south Sudanese living in northern Sudan, there is also the prospect of a huge migration into the south, which would put a severe strain on the region. Sudan has been a key focus of Caritas for decades, with the confederation of catholic agencies launching more appeals for it than any other country. Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said, “Our prayers and hopes are with the people of Sudan as they head into an historic moment, but one fraught with [...]
By Bridget Burrows, CAFOD’s Communications Officer in Nairobi (CAFOD is a Caritas member in England and Wales) When polling booths open on January 9, citizens from Sudan’s south will be voting in an exercise in self-determination, yet more than 75 per cent of the population in southern Sudan cannot read or write. Getting information has never been more important. But as the largest country in Africa, it is difficult to reach the most remote communities. Responding to this challenge are the community radio stations of the Sudan Catholic Radio Network who transmit crucial election information across seven dioceses in southern Sudan. Regular programmes like ‘Know Your Country’ and ‘Peace Forum’ broadcast voter education, impartial news and promote peaceful polls, while lively phone-in debates get listeners involved in hot topics of the day. The radio network is on air up to nine hours a day, broadcasting around the capital Juba, and the towns of [...]
Sudan is approaching possibly the most critical point in it modern history. A nation whose past includes decades of conflict is about to make key decisions on its future. Southern Sudanese will choose either the continued unity of Sudan or secession. Caritas prays for the coming period to be peaceful and hope that an emergency response will not be needed. However, Sudan may face huge potential instability . Caritas members are already working together in Sudan through the ‘Caritas Internationalis Emergency Preparedness Appeal’ to coordinate their humanitarian efforts. Caritas staff have been making preparations within the country they hope can save lives. Caritas has been working with staff of the Catholic Church in Sudan and Sudanaid (Caritas Sudan) to strengthen our collective ability to respond to a future emergency. This includes supporting training programmes since early August so that national and local staff know what to do in case of an emergency. Staff are trained [...]