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 [...]
CAFOD Sudan Peace Action timeline on Dipity.
Southern Sudan went to the polls 9 January 2011 to decide on self-determination. Caritas prays the outcome will be peace and development for all Sudanese.Follow the elections with our staff in Juba on the Caritas blog.A resolution could be as good for Sudan as the election of Nelson Mandela was for South Africa, or it could trigger violence and be as dire as Rwanda in the 1990's. Caritas has been working with the people of Sudan to ensure that communities are prepared for both eventualities. NEW HOPE - VOICES FOR PEACESouthern Sudan decides its own future in referenda on whether to remain within a unified Sudan or to secede... CARITAS BEING PREPARED Caritas staff have been making preparations within the country they hope can save lives... PHOTO GALLERY Staff of CRS (Caritas member in North America) take photos from Caritas projects in Sudan... RADIO NATION Sudan Catholic Radio Network will transmit crucial election information across seven dioceses [...]
Africa could get a new country in 2011; or an old country could be torn apart by strife. On January 9th, up to eight million Sudanese in the south could vote to decide whether to stay united with the north or to secede and become independent. View photo gallery of Sudan in the run up to the referendum 2011 The south is slowly being rebuilt after decades of war ended in 2005. People who fled came back to their destroyed houses and their lands. Many of these people are hoping for a new country as the next step in the long road to peace. But peace is fragile, with reports of conflict throughout the south. If war returns, the outcome could be disastrous for the lives of millions. Caritas thinks that if people have the instruments for peace then they will take that path rather than one of violence. In the run up to [...]
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 [...]