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 [...]
CAFOD Sudan Peace Action timeline on Dipity.
Sudan’s Darfur region is witnessing an upsurge in violence. A quarter of a million people were forced from their homes in 2010. Millions more already live in camps in a crisis with no obvious resolution. [View our photo gallery from Caritas projects in Darfur] Caritas provided food, clean water, healthcare, peacebuilding and skills training to half a million people in camps and host communities in South and West Darfur in 2010 as part of an ecumenical programme with the Protestant and Orthodox ACT Alliance. [Read how Caritas aid is being used in Darfur] Caritas saw an increase in the number of people in need of help with doubling of new people requiring its humanitarian services. At the same time, aid efforts became more difficult as a result of insecurity and was mainly restricted to camps. The $11 million 2011 Darfur programme plans to increase the number of people it reaches to 530,000 [...]
I have five children and live in Naandi with my mum. I came here to Tombura town for two weeks of training. I wanted to train as a pump mechanic to help my community. I was selected and I was happy to be chosen. My mum didn’t say much, but she’s okay with it. Eighteen people are being trained, four are women. Even being a woman I can do this work. The men accepted us. The training is not hard. I can read and write a bit in Zande language because I reached class three of primary school. I like the practical work best. I like to unscrew the screws and remove the pipes. Before training as a pump mechanic I was just farming. When we go back to our villages, we will be volunteers, and if there is a broken borehole, we can fix it. There are broken boreholes in [...]
“I live in Nazerete, an area in Tombura town. It has been four years since we came here from Central Africa where I was a refugee. I left in 1990 because of the war. We went by foot, it took two weeks. My husband died from a disease in exile. Some of my daughters died, too. I came back with one son and one daughter, and then my daughter also passed away. We found it difficult in exile, there was no way to earn a living, and I lost four family members. Then I heard that there was peace, so I came back. When I returned home to Sudan I felt happy because this is the place I was born in. Before we were getting water from a borehole nearby, but now it doesn’t work anymore and I have to go very far to a spring which is hard for [...]
That day, I was sent to the village with my uncle. When we reached it, we didn’t see anyone. But the LRA were sitting under the granary watching. My uncle saw them but didn’t say anything, and he started to run, but he ran in the wrong direction. I ran too. They caught him and I managed to escape because their attention was on catching him. They were kicking him down, he was crying, and when I was running I could still hear his cries. He was 12 years old. I was afraid I would also be arrested. I ran into the bush, the LRA still following me, but I was running faster. I ran past a place where we had hidden some items in the bush in case of an LRA attack – a jerrycan, plates and saucepans - and they started to take those items and forgot about [...]
“We were living in Andari. We left because of an attack by the LRA. They first started attacking people in Congo, then attacked Andari and abducted one of my sons. I went to a trading centre and sent two boys to get tobacco for me, but when they arrived home they met LRA at the house. And the LRA abducted my son. He was the only boy captured in the village that day. Right now, he’s still with the LRA. I know because one woman who escaped from them told me she met him and that they cut his arm off. I don’t know now if he’s alive, but I know that he lost his arm. Because he continued trying to alert someone, so they punished him. He’s lucky it was just that and that he was not killed. I feel really bad for him. I don’t think he will [...]
In a major joint project with United Nations and EU agencies, Caritas is providing emergency aid to victims of LRA attacks in Southern Sudan. Around 1.8 million refugees and displaced people returned to their homes in Southern Sudan over the last years as the fighting finally seemed to have come to an end after twenty years of civil war. Many people had been away from home all those years. Just as they were returning however, inter-tribal violence and attacks from the Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) sparked off again, killing an estimated 250 people. Around 100,000 people had to flee their homes once more in 2009. Caritas is providing 400,000 euro to help 5,000 households in the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, Western Equatoria. The aid includes paying the salaries of support staff for water, sanitation and hygiene activities, peace building projects and distributions of seeds, tools, household kits and food. [...]
Caritas Internationalis works in Darfur in cooperation with Action by Churches Together (ACT) helping 350,000 people, including 240,000 who have lost their homes. The implementing partner, Norwegian Church Aid, has two national Sudanese partners, the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudanaid (Caritas Sudan). Miriam is a tailoring teacher in Bilel Camp, one of Darfur’s relief camps. It is home to over 30,000 Sudanese who have fled violence. This is her story. “My family came to Bilel Camp because of the fighting. It is still not safe for us to return. I come from Kukuja village which is only about 5 km from here. My husband and 10 children have been here with me for six years now. “Back in my village, I was taught tailoring skills by my mother when I was very young.When I arrived in Bilel, after the community centre was established, they asked me if I would become a [...]
By Edwyn Shiell, Act for Peace - Campaigns & Communication Coordinator “It’s difficult to talk about HIV and AIDS in Darfur. You can’t really talk about it openly in the camps”, says Gloria Gwoka Nakoboji, the HIV/AIDS Project Officer for the Sudan Council of Churches - SCC (A Caritas partner) in Nyala, Darfur. Estimates of people infected with HIV vary greatly across Sudan and in Darfur many people would go as far as to question the existence of diseases in general let alone AIDS. There are deep seeded cultural perceptions of AIDS in the Internally Displaced People’s camps and the SCC continues its innovative work through community networks, campaigns and education in order to counter these perceptions and prevent the spread of the virus. This challenging context provides a variety of dilemmas for the confident and creative workers that have made the project such a success with communities in South Darfur. Gloria said, "Most [...]