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Archive for June 10th, 2009

SUDAN: Fear of rebel attacks and insecurity in troubled South

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2009


Photo: Peter Martell/IRIN
Refugees who fled rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA) attacks fetch water at the Makpandu refugee camp in southern Sudan (file photo):Many of those displaced earlier this year by LRA fighters in Mundri are still too scared to return home

MUNDRI, – Insecurity continues to plague Southern Sudan as ethnic violence and guerrilla attacks leave thousands at risk, analysts have warned.

In Mundri, a farming town in Western Equatoria state, many of those displaced earlier this year by rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters are still too scared to return home. According to UN figures, hundreds were killed and some 130,000 in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan forced to flee their homes as the rebels scattered after attacks on theirdense forest bases in December 2008.

Some 8,000 people fled their farming villages to Mundri in January. Six months later, people are struggling to survive.

Some have returned home, but many people remain here in Mundri, said Kennet Korayi, director of the community-based Mundri Relief and Development Association. They are really struggling: they could not cultivate their fields this year, so they are finding it hard to get by now.

Local police chief Alex Taban stressed that security was excellent, pointing to the heavy presence of troops from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) in the town. We have this area under our control, Taban said.

But others say the troop presence remains sparse in more remote areas, and villagers are reluctant to return home to areas where SPLA forces have not been deployed.

Perhaps as many as a third of those who came to Mundri are still here, because they are scared of going back to the villages, said Korayi.

Most IDPs in Mundri are reported to be living with families but are struggling to get by since in many cases the crops they were relying on have not been harvested.

“We do not believe we will be safe to return,” said James Ariwari, who fled to Mundri from a village some 50km away in January. “There are soldiers, but we have heard they are not near our village because it was destroyed.”

Elsewhere, large refugee camps have been settled. In the Makandu refugee camp in Western Equatoria several thousand people from the DRC have set up basic shelters. Most fled the DRC in December 2008 due to LRA attacks.

“We have support but it is still hard to find enough food,” said Jean-Luc Wihati Zeberme, chief of the camp. “We are in a very difficult situation.”

Security issues

Sima Samar, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, said she remained deeply concerned about LRA attacks in Western Equatoria and Central Equatoria states.

Security forces point out the massive challenges in tackling the mobile guerrilla force, but Samar criticized the response by the SPLA.

The LRA has plundered and burnt villages, while committing horrendous abuses, including killings and abductions, with an ineffective response from the SPLA, Samar told journalists on 4 June after a visit to the South.


Photo: Peter Martell/IRIN
Refugees register at the Makpandu refugee camp in southern Sudan (file photo): Several thousand people from the Democratic Republic of Congo are sheltered here after fleeing LRA attacks

Extra SPLA troops were sent to the region following the attacks, while Ugandan troops continue to be based along Sudans border with the DRC in an effort to tackle LRA fighters. But many areas were forced to rely on local defence forces equipped with bows and arrows.

While I recognize the logistical and resource constraints of the police, the SPLA and state governments concerned, the encouragement of self-defence groups is not a substitute for the responsibility of the state to actively police these areas, and deter future attacks to protect civilians, she said.

Clashes

But the LRA is only one problem facing the South, which has been ripped apart by violent clashes – some sparked by cattle raiding and long-running rivalries between different ethnic groups.

More than 1,000 people have died and many more been displaced in recent months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Recent death rates have been higher than those in the war-torn region of Darfur, the UNs Special Representative to Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, has warned.

The size and scale of inter-tribal clashes over cattle rustling has been unprecedented, with the use of sophisticated firearms and targeting of women and children in villages, Samar added.

Tensions over grazing have long been common in the South, but recent battles have been of a larger scale. Some claim outside forces are backing militias as proxy forces to destabilize the South.

Southern President Salva Kiir, speaking at a conference on 17 May of senior traditional leaders, urged unity among the South.

They [the clashes] have never in our history been so deadly, so ferociously fought with modern weapons, said Kiir, first Vice-President of all Sudan. Some of these weapons are brand new…Where are these weapons coming from? Who is supplying them?

I have strong reason to believe that these tribal conflicts and tensions are external and alien to the people of Southern Sudan, he added, without elaborating further.

Kiir also warned that violence could increase ahead of national elections due in February, and the historic referendum for the South’s potential full independence the year after.

pm/mw source.www.irinnews.org

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Pan Africanism: African Women’s Resource Group in Norway taking their agenda to the world for a better place for the African woman.

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2009

By Chief Editor Korir, API

Pan African women’s Association in Norway takes the lead and focuses on unity for the African Woman.

Years ago, Former Presidents Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenyatta of Kenya , Nyerere of Tanzania, among others had in mind the importance of Pan Africanism.

It has taken years and still on the road to achieve that goal which we now see is being developed by the establishment of African Union through the hard work of African leaders. AU is getting stronger by the day and will most probably help create United States of Africa. The African Union is now chaired by the Libyan leader Qaddafi who is touring Europe this week and will hold a business meeting with over 400 Italian business women today.

In a small way, this is what a group of African women in Norway are starting to work on, aiming to have a successful Pan Africanism now that they have grouped themselves in a resource group calling themselves the African Women’s Resource Group based in Norway.

On looking at the women behind the idea, one is reminded by what the leaders mentioned above wanted to achieve during their time as the first African leaders who took over the reigns of power from the colonialists.

The ladies who have taken the initiative originate from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya-Masai and Gambia.

Recently, the group actively visited areas in Oslo and distributed pamphlets telling their fellow African women that they deserve to feel well and urged them to be strong in their day to day activities knowing that they are not alone.

The tale of these women is interesting. They want the African Woman to acknowledge their feelings, thoughts and experiences, at the same time urging them to set limits and healthy boundaries. In so doing, they tell African Press International (API), that the woman should fill the mind with good thoughts while protecting the soul. Women have to acknowledge that at times it is OK not to feel OK and yet be able to ask for help and support from others during hard times, the women “thundering in chorus joyfully” during a talk with African Press International (API) in oslo recently.

The group wants women to base their emphasis on strengthening a healthy mind and understand that getting information about good health resources eases the pain which will in time go away through good work and support from those having a woman’s place at heart in order to enable the woman develop herself strongly in their effort to focus on building unity in the society that enables mothers and their children to prosper.

The Five women, going by their first names namely; Neneh, Amina, Christine, Regina, and Benter tell API that the group comprises of women of African origin that meets on a weekly basis in peaceful environment where they reflect on issues that concern women. They also say their aim is to have social activities, tours and have fun at the same time. They emphasise on mutual support, respect, transparency, trust, confidentiality and equality.

Spirited with the need to prosper, the group is calling upon other women to form groups and they promise to give support to such initiatives.

When asked what they think about themselves, the five women tell API that they view themselves as a resource, knowledgeable, active, capable to take decisions, capable to develop and harvest potential and that they deserve to feel well because they are worth it.

The Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation has seen the need to uplift the group by giving them financial support for their activities.

END

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