Archive for the ‘Socio-Cultural’ Category

Oxford University Press
Last modified: 2011-11-01T18:08:46Z
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 – 11:08 am

NEW YORK, Nov. 1, 2011 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — It’s positioned in a territorial hot zone, and on July 9, 2011, it became the newest country in the world. The stakes are high and the future is unclear for Oxford’s 2011 Place of the Year, South Sudan.

Before the independent country of South Sudan was formed, the nation of Sudan had a riddled history of war, tragedy and poverty.  First, there was the rebellion in Darfur, which generated greater international concern than any other humanitarian crisis in modern history. The Darfur rebellion recently obscured the far more lethal war between northern and southern Sudan, spanning twenty-two years in its most recent phase and which cost the lives of more than two and a half million Southerners—eight times the number who died in Darfur.

What’s more, the country is home to vast oil and mineral wealth. Emerging Asian economic powers in particular have been drawn to Sudan by its vast natural resources.

Thirdly, Sudan has been a religious battleground for generations.  So much so that according to Andrew Natsios, author of several books including his newest, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, March 2012), “the greatest unresolved issue in the region’s politics has involved Islam.” In fact, the country once housed the most wanted criminal in the world, Osama bin Laden (his former home in Khartoum is a tourist site even today).

Looking towards the future and viability of South Sudan in the 21st century, it’s quite certain they will be confronted with several dilemmas. South Sudan’s (along with China) population is projected to triple by the end of this century.  A nation nearly the size of Texas, South Sudan lacks the infrastructure they require to sustain the anticipated population growth.  Even as it stands today, the newly formed country is finding it extremely difficult to account for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled the country during the bloody civil war only to recently return. Indeed, the attention of Africa and the world will be focused on South Sudan and sub-Saharan Africa as we all tread cautiously into this 21st century of uncertainty.

Facts about South Sudan:

Official Name:  Republic of South Sudan

Population: 8,260,000

Land area:  239,285 square milesCapital(s): Juba (with plans to move capital to Ramciel in the future) Government: TransitionalEthnic Groups: Dinka, Nuer, and roughly 200 others

Bordering Nations: Ethiopia, Sudan, Central African Rep., Congo, Uganda, and KenyaLanguages: Local languagesReligions: Traditional beliefs, ChristianityCurrency: Sudanese pound (1 USB = 2.68 Sudanese pounds) Cash crops: Agriculture, forestry, mineral resources (mainly oil)

Gained Independence: July 9, 2011President: Salva Kiir Mayardit (2nd President of South Sudan)

The Oxford University Press annual Place of the Year coincides with its publication of Atlas of the World—the only atlas published annually—now in its 18th Edition.

Finalists for Oxford’s 2011 Place of the Year:

Greece Cairo, Egypt
Fukushima, Japan Joplin, Missouri
Tuscaloosa, Alabama The Moon
Palestine Wall Street
Sweden Tunisia
Libya England
Somalia Palo Alto, California

Oxford invites comments on South Sudan as well as other information and content at [].

Andrew S. Natsios served as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2001 to 2005, where he was appointed as Special Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.  He also served as Special Envoy to Sudan from October 2006 to December 2007. He is the author of two previous books, U.S. Foreign Policy and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Great North Korean Famine.  His newest book, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2012.

Read more:

01 Nov 2011 12:00

Source: trustlaw // Jocelyn Edwards

A tribeswoman wears traditional clothes during preparations for the independence day ceremony, scheduled for July 9, in Juba July 1, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

By Jocelyn Edwards

JUBA (TrustLaw) – They call themselves “women in business”.  But it’s the last type of business most women, who have flocked to the world’s newest country, would choose.

Lured by South Sudan’s booming post-war economy, women from countries surrounding the country have streamed to its capital, Juba.  But unable to get other work, and often without even the money to get home, many have found themselves in the long, low lodges made of corrugated tin that serve as the city’s brothels.

Sharon*, a woman from northern Uganda, sits on a bench outside a lodge at the back of Juba’s Jebel market.  She came to Juba a couple of months before South Sudan became independent with hopes of working in a hotel and sending money back to support her 13-year-old daughter.  “They told us there was a lot of money in Juba and a lot of work.  But when we reached, there was no work.  I don’t know Arabic, so I didn’t find a job,” she said.

Peres Ide, director of South Sudan Women’s Effort to Fight HIV/AIDS, says Sharon’s story is typical of the foreign sex workers living in Juba.  “Their friends, their own peers encourage them to come.  Then reaching Sudan they do not have any skills to get a job so they end up in brothels as commercial sex workers,” she told TrustLaw.

Ide’s organization counted more than 3,500 sex workers in Juba in June of this year; 73 percent of them were non-Sudanese.  Women from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo make up the vast majority of the foreign sex workers in Juba but the women also come from as far away as Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Sitting beside Sharon on the bench is Paulina, also from northern Uganda.  The 28-year-old sends every extra penny of what she earns back home to help pay school fees for her brothers and her daughter, who is five.  She says she can earn much more in Juba than she could in Uganda as a petty trader.

Paulina’s parents and neighbours in Uganda don’t know what she does in Juba.  “They don’t know that we are working in the lodges.  They think we are working in hotels,” she said.

The women earn 10 pounds (about $3) per customer but “when you have no money to even take tea, you can even accept 5,” Sharon said.  It’s not much, especially when you consider that they must spend 10 pounds a day for their rooms and one pound a day for anti-retroviral drugs.


Like many other sex workers in South Sudan, Sharon and Paulina are HIV positive, a fact they hide from the local Sudanese population.  They take their pills in secret and though they use condoms they live in fear of discovery.  A South Sudanese man once came to the lodge and accused a Ugandan sex worker of giving him HIV.  “He came here and wanted to kill her, but she disappeared.  Up until now, he is still looking for her,” Paulina said.

While Sharon and Paulina only have themselves to look out for, many of the Congolese women working in Juba also have children to take care of.

Sifa, 30, came to Juba from the Democratic Republic of Congo last year.  She brought her children, ages one and three, with her.  She lost many of her relatives in the war, which meant she had no one to leave the children with.  “I am the only one remaining (in the family).  My mother is dead, my father is dead,” she said.

Though her room is only two meters square, it must accommodate her, her children and her clients.  When she has customers, she drops a floral-patterned curtain between the bed and the space on the floor where the children sleep.  “I have nowhere else to put them,” she said.

Like so many of the sex workers in South Sudan, Sifa’s hopes for a good life in Juba were disappointed.  “I understood that in Sudan there was a lot of money.  They told me if you go to Sudan you can get a job.  Per day you can get 30 or 40 pounds.  But it’s not like that.  People were just lying.”

The Congolese woman needs at least $200 for her and her two children to get back to her village in North Kivu.  “I just stay because there is no way for me to go back.  If God helps me, I will go back in December,” she said.

* Names have been changed.

31 October 2011-(Juba) -At least 3 percent of the total population of South Sudan is living with the deadly HIV/Aids virus.

That’s according to the non-governmental organization, Family Health International or FHI.

The Senior Program Officer of F-H-I 360, John Bosco Alege said that a survey carried out by the Ministry of Health and its partners came up with 3 percent of the population living with the virus.

Mister Allege said the prevalence rates vary from town to town with the highest rates recorded in Western Equatoria state.

Alege]: “In South Sudan there are huge disparities in terms of prevalence. If you go to major towns like Juba, you go to Yambio, you go to Yei, Wau, Upper Nile and so on there are a lot of disparities in the prevalence. You will realize that currently, Western Equatoria state has the highest prevalence rate, I cannot quote it now because I cannot remember it off head, but it stands far beyond three percent, which means it is higher than the national prevalence that the ministry is working with”.

Alege said that intensive research needs to be conducted in order to establish the exact national prevalence rate.

Sudan Radio Service, a Project of Education Development Center

The AIDS Pandemic in South Sudan: Death from the bedroom

by Brian Adeba (written in 2001)

In the past, death in southern Sudan used either to come through war or famine. But now another avenue has been opened through an AIDS pandemic that is sweeping unnoticed in one of Africa’s unstable regions.

As the AIDS scourge continues to have a devastating toll on Africa, in southern Sudan rampant ignorance about the disease is set to make the situation even worse, so argue AIDS experts.

Largely, thanks to the 18-year-old civil war, the 45 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in the war-torn area have mainly concentrated their efforts on relief work and combating other primary health problems, leaving the HIV-AIDS issue literally untouched. The most dominant rebel group in the area, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) has not done better.

Even after establishing a civil authority and administrative structure in the territory it controls, it has taken the group’s leadership six years to throw its political will behind efforts to fight the scourge. It was only in April this year that the SPLA and the NGOS sat down to formulate a policy guideline to combat the AIDS pandemic. To date, southern Sudan is one of those areas in Africa where no comprehensive statistics on HIV-AIDS prevalence exist.

“We don’t have correct information about the standards of AIDS prevalence in Southern Sudan”, admits Dr. Bellario Ahoi N’gog, Chief Health Officer of the SPLA Health Secretariat. Dr N’gog then cites perhaps the only AIDS survey ever conducted in southern Sudan in 1998 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“What was got was that there was AIDS,” he said. The survey found out that the prevalence rates on the virus ranged from one to three percent of the population. The SPLA estimates that there are 12 million people in the territory it controls in the south. Critics have termed the UNDP survey as being not comprehensive. Some areas, especially those where there was fighting, were not accessible to researchers when the survey was being conducted.

The inaccurate and not so comprehensive statistics aside, the situation has been made grimmer by the fact that the rebel authorities lack the means to conduct their own studies on prevalence rates. “We have not had the means to make comprehensive surveys in all the counties of the New Sudan (a term the SPLA uses for the areas it controls in the South) and we think that the problem is bigger than that”, says Dr. N’gog. Dr. I.S. Sindani, a physician who has worked for the relief agency, Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA), confirms his fears.

For the past three years Dr. Sindani has carried out small-scale studies in two hospitals in southern Sudan. The situation in the main in Yei, which is the main headquarters of the SPLA paints an alarming picture “We collected data from patients dating January 2000 to June 2001 and 24.6 per cent of the patients were positive,” said Dr. Sindani.

For a single hospital to register such an alarming high percentage there is every reason to worry. Dr. Sindani also said samples taken from blood donors within the same period registered a 6.8. percent positivity rate. “These are people living in the community and everybody looks at them as normal people but they are giving it (HIV) to others. So it is quite a high rate,” he says.

Two years ago at the same hospital, Dr. Sindani’s surveys found out that only 18.6 percent of the patients were HIV positive. But Dr. Sindani is quick to emphasise that these are small studies, which are not community based and comprehensive. He believes the prevalence rate could be much higher.

Dr. Sindani is not alone in his fears. Dr. Margaret Itto the Health Co-ordinator of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), says a hospital the Council operates in the town of Nzara in Western Equatoria Province, has in the last two years been recording an increase in TB cases and resistance to treatment. She says in most cases this is an indication that HIV-AIDS is increasing among the people.

Ms. Judith Roba, a nurse with the NSCC who has worked in many hospitals throughout Southern Sudan, says the situation is getting worse. “In all these hospitals I have worked, I see the signs and symptoms of HIV everywhere”, she said. The main mode of transmission of the virus is through heterosexual sex but of late increased cases of pre-natal transmission are being recorded. This year alone 6.2 percent of HIV patients in Yei Hospital were said to be children below the age of five.

Currently it appears that the number of males living with the virus is more than that of females. But researchers like Dr. Sindani argue that this is because most of the women in Southern Sudan are in refuge in neighbouring countries. According to Dr. Itto, this is a main cause of worry.

“All the five countries neighbouring South Sudan have high peaks of HIV AIDS. With people moving in and out, we expect it (HIV) to be high”, she said. The area under SPLA control is a large swathe of land, perhaps larger than Kenya and Uganda combined. Four years ago, the SPLA forced out government forces from most of Equatoria and Bahr-el-Ghazel Provinces.

From the Ugandan town of Koboko, the road is now open up to northern Bahr-el-Ghazel and a whole market for Ugandan goods was created. And with it, an increase in the movement of people across the two borders ensuring the spread of the scourge from Uganda, a country that a few years ago had the highest prevalence rates in Africa. Counties near the border areas are suspected to be having high peaks of the virus. Other factors like wife inheritance, initiation rites, use of unsterilised needles and the movement of soldiers from one front to another encourage the spread of the virus, so says Dr. N’gog.

Perhaps the major obstacle in the fight against the virus is the rampant ignorance about it in Southern Sudan. The NSCC, which was among the first NGOs under the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) umbrella to initiate awareness campaigns, estimates that only 58 percent of the population is aware about the disease. Awareness exists only around the border areas but deep in the interior, it is non-existent.

Even so, in places where one expects some knowledge about HIV-AIDS, it is mainly attributed to witchcraft. In some areas, people feel there are more pressing needs than awareness. An SPLA officer posed this question to this writer: “Which one kills faster- an assault on enemy trenches or AIDS?”

Awareness campaigns started in 1998, but not much has been done in this front. The situation is made worse by the lack of a wide reaching medium like radio, to disseminate awareness messages. Protective measures like the use of condoms is literally unheard of in most areas and in any case, the Catholic church which commands the largest following among churches in the South, is vehemently opposed to the idea.

Dr. Pius Subek, the Executive Director of the Sudan Health Association (SUHA), an indigenous NGO involved in AIDS awareness said his organisation brought condoms to a county called Kajokeji near the Ugandan border but not a single person came to ask for one. It is the same story in towns like Yei, Maridi and Yambio. Condoms are available in the shops and pharmacies, but there are no customers. Anyone seen with a condom is labelled promiscuous.

The fight against the scourge is also hampered by the fact that there is practically little or no co-ordination among the 45 NGOs in the health domain. As a result, individual NGOs carry out ill-planned and isolated campaigns in the areas they operate. No modalities are created to keep sustained awareness campaigns and soon these fizzle out.

However, AIDS campaigners are hailing as a milestone a meeting in April this year between the SPLA and the NGOS to formulate an AIDS policy guideline. During the meeting held in Natinga in Eastern Equatoria Province, SPLA leader, John Garang declared AIDS as the second enemy of the SPLA: the first one being the government of Sudan.

Garang also announced that the disease should be talked about in parades, churches, schools and courts of the “New Sudan”, whenever leaders find the opportunity. It is hoped that with this political backing of the SPLA, the fight against one of the world’s deadliest diseases may have just begun in one of Africa’s unstable regions. But for it to attain any tangible results a Marshall Plan might be required in the form of funds to kick start and sustain awareness campaigns since as Dr N’gog says the war on AIDS begun a bit late.

From AFRICANEWS – Koinonia Media Centre, P.O. Box 21255, Nairobi, Kenya
tel: +254.2.576175 (voice) Fax:- +254.2.577892 (fax-modem)
AFRICANEWS on line is by Koinonia Media Centre

Can we STAND TALL to face the Epidemic?

By Regina Akok

Warning! I’m not acting here as an HIV/AIDS expert, I don’t even belong to medical community, but I belong to human community, which allowed me to be inquisitive, not only that but passionate about health issues, and medical mysterious like many of you on this medium. In fact some of my favourite readings or shows have been about the medical field and health issues. I thought it’s important to access information, learning about prevention or cure for any epidemic like other diseases, and are considered essential part of human rights. I will share with you and some already know the basics about HIV/AIDS in terms of its history, what is it? And what are its social impacts on the victims and those surrounded the victims. What are some misconceptions that need to be changed? And how we need to change the way we look at HIV/AIDS as only an stigma attached to moral or ethical questions only, which hinders both prevention and cure, but as a disease that’s debilitating to all of us, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, culturally, and economically. In fact, its negative impacts extends to the next generations if we are not careful enough as government, professional healthcare givers, educators, communicators, communities, youth, women, men, chiefs, religious leaders, the victims of the endemic and everybody else. What has been done to prevent it globally? What lessons can we learn from those experiences? I acknowledge it’s not an easy challenge that could be dealt with easy and ready made resolutions. So let’s start exploring because how could we deal with unknown? This is just an attempt to understand the issue.

To start off, what is HIV and AIDS?

HIV is a virus that destroys human immune cells. It weakens the immune system, and without appropriate medical care, it leads most infected people to develop AIDS. The term ‘AIDS’ stands for ‘Acquired humane deficiency Syndrome’. AIDS is a medical condition, and a person is diagnosed with AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off viruses. The history of AIDS is a short one; it goes back to 1970s, sadly, no one was aware of this deadly disease. In fact it was first identified or recognized in the early 1980s, in which an unprecedented number of people have been affected by the global AIDS epidemic. Since then the global AIDS epidemic has become one of the greatest fear and threats to human health and development. Simultaneously, much has been learnt about the science of AIDS as well as how to prevent and treat the diseases. Sorry to say, through the process our continent, sub-Saharan region of Africa has shared most of the pain and generations of souls have been lost because of HIV/AIDS. It is not a one person disease, when one is affected the whole family or community is hurt, starting with physical illness, psychological trauma, , deterioration of economic, reproducing parentless children as we saw in Uganda, orphanage, plus new sets of problems that are attached to that. In addition to stigmatisation that can extend to the next generation, placing an emotional burden on those left behind. I cannot even go there, that’s needs a whole book.

According to UNAIDS (2010) on the global AIDS epidemic, it is reported that for the end of 2009 about 33.3 million people are living with HIV, and roughly 2.6 million more people become infected every year with HIV, whereas 1.8 million die of AIDS. It is a staggering figure and scary as well, isn’t it?

We have learned that AIDS is passed from person to person through sexual fluids, blood and breast milk (in case of infected mothers). However, it has been reported that the common HIV infections are handed on through sex between men and women, sex workers, injecting drug users, and men who have sex with men.

Yet again, in many people’s psyche or mentality, HIV and AIDS are very much connected with particular group of peoples, which can lead to even a greater stigma and bias against people already thought of as outsiders. Stigma or shame is one of the reasons that delay fighting HIV or accessing the right treatment all over the world and could be the case in our beloved country, if the authorities are not sensible about it. It’s mainly problematic, thinking mistakenly that, well I’m immune to AIDS because I’m not that promiscuous or not a drug addict or not a gay and simply don’t belong to certain group of people or “the other”, its hookers’ problems not mine or it’s certain nationalities not South Sudanese, please give it a break already it has proven not to be true. The disease does not discriminate against anybody; it practises its fairness very well. Trust me; it’s not that far from your backyard. It affects adolescents, Adults men and women, religious people non religious people, wealthy, poor, those with high moral and those considered with low morals, well educated people and non educated, street people and those who live in mansions, blue, grey people as well as green people, young and old, including babies, those who live in rural areas as well as urban centres, those who reside in Juba a s well as those who live in Akouc (my own village in Twic county), South Sudan as well as America.

What is AIDS related stigma and discrimination? It means to prejudice, negative attitude, abuse and maltreatment directed at people with HIV and AIDS. Consequences range from being rejected by family, peers, and the wider community, by being offered poor treatment in healthcare and education settings, being avoided to socialize with. It is an erosion of rights, causing psychological damage, and as adding negative outcomes on the success of HIV testing and treatment. We can fight stigma through informative and helpful laws and setting policies which begins with openness. It takes courage to speak in public, in schools and empower those affected to use their experience as power of educating others. I know it’s not easy, especially in our communities.

That’s being said no policies or laws that will wipe out HIV/AIDS related discrimination. Stigma and discrimination will continue to exist so long as societies as a whole have a poor understanding of HIV/AIDS and the pain and suffering caused by negative attitudes and discrimination practices. Those fear and stigma need to be dealt with at government levels and community levels through simple tools like billboards like the one that I saw in Juba, translated in local languages, using visual aids, through schools, churches, mosques, villages, health centres, by including the already affected with the disease to be part of the solution. I’m sure I have not included every aspect that might help.

Let’s talk about what others have been doing to prevent the disease and what needs to be done in our situation before we regret it. Earlier responses to HIV prevention, which acknowledged that HIV can be passed to another person through sexual intercourse, even before the term ‘ABC’ approach for prevention was considered. It was obvious in the resources provided by the World health organization (WHO), the global program on AIDS, later succeeded by UNAIDS, governments and organizations around the world, that much attention was paid to abstinence principle (which could be discriminatory itself because not everybody knows how to self-discipline), fidelity and condemn use, which could prevent the sexual transmission of HIV, but was that enough, I mean did that control the spread of the disease? Before we reflect on that we may need to understand what is ABC strategy after all?

What is ABC approach of preventing HIV/AIDS spread?

•          Abstinence for youth, including the delay of sexual debut and abstinence until marriage

•          Being tested for HIV and being faithful in marriage and monogamous relationships

•          Correct and consistent use of condoms for those who practice high-risk behaviours

All the above points sound great but neglect other aspects such as cultures, social economic conditions, gender inequality, level of literacy, strength and willingness of the governments involved, stability of the nations and wars, lack of sex education and taboos and sets of problems surrounded the issue of sexuality, multiple partners and more. As early as 2004, UNAIDS called for a move towards a more comprehensive approach to HIV prevention because it appeared ABC approach was not enough, many people were still dying of AIDS. They thought of reviewing and assessing earlier approaches such as the above mentioned ABC approach and in fact to include realities of the inequality between men and women in many of the countries with a high HIV primacy, which explains, more women being infected with the disease.  Some organisations have recommended increasing on the ‘ABC‘ slogan to include social and economic aspects, particularly women’s rights. At one point, it was suggested that ‘DEF‘ were also added; representing ‘defending against gender-based violence’, ‘education: improving girls education’ and fix property and inheritance laws please see more on the (Global AIDS Alliance ‘Comprehensive HIV Prevention) and World Council of Churches (January 2005) “Working with People living with HIV/AIDS Organizations”

However, there are those who believe instead of that ‘one size fit all’, which means applying one model to all infected with the disease without looking at other circumstances that are specific to certain people, communities, or nations or regions. Those alternatives have meant shifting the focus from completely relying on ABC measures alone to considering other models that are more inclusive and culturally specific. Some of the debates believe it is important to discard ABC approaches altogether. Some argue, prevention plans must be tailored to the local context; which means to understand key drivers of the local endemic. It also means adopting more of a holistic approach (social economic, culture, beliefs, myths, gender equality, class and others). Each country has its own circumstances. For certain countries it might be that people are not open enough to discuss issues related with sex even among married people. Or because women are taught not to say no to their partners even if it was evident her partner is not committed to her alone. In other circumstances, the drivers might be inadequate and poor medical equipment, or lack of education about the disease or just government is being reluctant to address the issue or just being in denial.  That is why there is now general agreement that where the ABC approach is used, it should be balanced and that it should also been seen as part of a wider prevention strategy that, if appropriate, includes circumcision for men, harm reduction for injecting drug users in other countries, and preventing mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) for pregnant women. In the west they talk even about protecting the sex workers. For more information please see (Cates, Willard (2003) “The ABC to Z approach” Network 22(4))

It’s a responsibility of the government, health care system, professionals, nurses, education system, religious institutions, local communities, media and press, discussion forums like this platform, chiefs, women, youth, local NGOs, humanitarian bodies, individuals and mainly the victims of HIV/AIDS themselves. Who knows better and what else can be more effective and powerful than the living testimony. Personal narratives can be empowering and educating as long as they are not exploited; it has to come from them when they are prepared and feel save to talk about their own journeys on their own terms. The point here is not to be voyeuristic about their pain, but to allow them to reclaim their voices and turn the pain and suffering to a powerful tool. It’s healing process and has been used in different communities to give voice and face to their fear and by doing that they help the whole society. This is might not work in some societies or with some individuals.

In addition to that HIV/AIDS in South Sudan should be treated as an emergency situation. Our government needs to be proactive and not that only but aggressive about it. special funds needs to be allocated for epidemic diseases. It’s unfortunate, malaria killed many which is preventable, which makes the case for HIV/AIDS even more challenging. If we can’t face curable diseases as a country how would we deal with the most complex, It’s another issue.

In the end let’s benefit from the theme for World AIDS’ Day 2010 ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. We know global leaders have pledged to work towards universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and care, recognizing these as fundamental human rights. Though valuable progress has been made globally in increasing access to HIV/AIDS services, yet greater commitment is needed around the globe and specifically in our own nation, Good luck with that.

Please check the following references for more information

UNAIDS (2010) UNAIDS report on the Global AIDS epidemic

WHO, UNAIDS & UNICEF (2010), Towards universal access: scaling up priority HIV/AIDS interventions in the health sector

Mutembei MK (2001) ‘Poetry and AIDS in Tanzania: changing metaphors and metonymies in Haya oral traditions: 144 cited in ‘The African AIDS epidemic: A History’ James Currey Oxford: 82

Costa, M in Nolen, S (2007) 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, Portobello Books: 131

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report 2005, (Vol. 17


South Sudan Grows Populations, And Face New Problems

Posted: October 31, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Socio-Cultural

by Frank Langfitt

Lujiazui, Shanghai’s financial district, includes the world’s third- and sixth-tallest buildings. The city’s population is 23 million.

Lujiazui, Shanghai's financial district, includes the world's third- and sixth-tallest buildings. The city's population is 23 million.
Frank Langfitt/NPR

Lujiazui, Shanghai’s financial district, includes the world’s third- and sixth-tallest buildings. The city’s population is 23 million.

text size A A A
October 31, 2011

NPR’s Frank Langfitt has spent the past year reporting in two countries where the populations and the problems could not be more different: South Sudan and China.

The best way to travel in South Sudan is by plane. That’s because, in a nation nearly the size of Texas, there are hardly any paved roads.

Small planes are a common way to move around South Sudan, which has few paved roads. Many roads are impassable during rain.

Enlarge Frank Langfitt/NPR

Small planes are a common way to move around South Sudan, which has few paved roads. Many roads are impassable during rain.

Small planes are a common way to move around South Sudan, which has few paved roads. Many roads are impassable during rain.
Frank Langfitt/NPR

Small planes are a common way to move around South Sudan, which has few paved roads. Many roads are impassable during rain.

Earlier this year, I flew to Akobo County, near the Ethiopian border. On the hour-plus flight, I saw cattle herders and acacia trees, but mostly empty landscape. There was little sign of the 21st century — or the 20th.

I touched down on a dirt runway in a town of mud and thatched huts. Goi Jooyul Yol, the county commissioner, explained how the lack of infrastructure is holding his people back.

“Akobo is a county that is cut off from the rest of Southern Sudan,” he said. “The only way we reach other counties through the state is through the river. We have a seasonal road right now. As soon it starts raining, everything stops.”

South Sudan is the world’s newest nation and one of its poorest. Its success depends in part on whether it can build enough roads where few exist.

Without tarmac roads, the people of Akobo can’t sell their corn and sorghum to outside markets. So, most of its residents remain subsistence farmers or cattle herders, leaving the government with little way to raise revenue and pay for anything.

Children in South Sudan, one of the world's poorest nations, sit in front of traditional homes made of mud and thatch.

Enlarge Frank Langfitt/NPR

Children in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest nations, sit in front of traditional homes made of mud and thatch.

Children in South Sudan, one of the world's poorest nations, sit in front of traditional homes made of mud and thatch.
Frank Langfitt/NPR

Children in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest nations, sit in front of traditional homes made of mud and thatch.

“The operating cost in the county, we cannot make it,” Yol says, “but we do have a lot of potential.”

The population of sub-Saharan Africa is growing faster than any other region on Earth.

South Sudan has more than 8 million people, and it’s been growing in recent years for reasons beyond its fertility rate: Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan’s civil war have returned home.

Akobo’s schools can’t handle the students they already have. The current class size is 200 to 300.

“Some of them don’t fit in the classroom,” Yol says. “They sit under the tree. When I heard it first, I didn’t believe it. But when I went and saw it, it is something mind-boggling.”


China is mind-boggling in a completely different way. While South Sudan has very little infrastructure, China has built more infrastructure in recent years than any other country. Some Chinese, though, fear the expansion has been too expensive and too fast.

China is the world’s most populous country with 1.3 billion people. Most of them are crammed along the country’s East Coast.

Despite its ultra-modern skyscrapers and paved streets, some Shanghai residents still transport items on carts.

Enlarge Frank Langfitt/NPR

Despite its ultra-modern skyscrapers and paved streets, some Shanghai residents still transport items on carts.

Despite its ultra-modern skyscrapers and paved streets, some Shanghai residents still transport items on carts.
Frank Langfitt/NPR

Despite its ultra-modern skyscrapers and paved streets, some Shanghai residents still transport items on carts.

You could walk for miles through the Sudanese bush and never see another soul. But in Shanghai, you sometimes have to walk on the street because there’s no room on the sidewalks.

China has slowed population growth by limiting urban families to one child.

Its challenge is moving the mass of people it already has quickly and efficiently.

China came up with one answer nearly a decade ago: a magnetic levitation train to one of Shanghai’s international airports.

The train glides along a rail and covers about 19 miles in around eight minutes.

But few people actually use the train. One passenger, a businessman surnamed Pan from East China’s Shandong Province, explained why.

“The train ticket is expensive, $6,” he said. “You have the subway, it’s cheaper. For less than a dollar, you can get to your destination.”

The Chinese government spent more than $1 billion building Mag-Lev, as it’s known, in 2002. Last year, the train ran at just 20 percent of capacity.

Unlike South Sudan, China has huge financial resources, but the lesson of Mag-Lev is this: You don’t just need money to handle a large population. You need to be careful where you spend it.

China is now focused on building a huge network of high-speed trains.

Chinese rail travel has often been a slow, crowded ordeal, but the bullet trains are changing that. Zheng Zhongyu, an acting student in Shanghai, says trips to Beijing are so much better these days.

“Before the train took 13 hours, now it’s five hours,” says Zheng, waiting outside the Shanghai Railway Station. “When I would take the train home, I couldn’t buy tickets. I’d have to stand the whole night. Now, buying tickets is very convenient.”

But last summer, two bullet trains collided, killing 40 people. The government blamed a lightning strike, but delayed releasing a report.

The crash left many Chinese uneasy. Some feel their government is building too much infrastructure too fast, because it can.

Back in South Sudan’s Akobo County, a problem like that is unimaginable and the needs of the population more basic. What Akobo requires — and is in the process of getting — is just a road people can drive on in the rain.

Seven billionth person on earth born today

FamilyGPFamilyGP – Fri, Oct 28, 2011 15:00 BST
Seven billionth person on earth born today
Today, the world’s seven billionth person has been born. It is impossible to say exactly where the seven billionth person on the planet has been born or who they are.
So the United Nations have chosen several newborn babies across the world to symbolically represent the global population milestone, including two baby girls Nargis and Danica who were born in India and the Philippines, respectively.
However, the stark reality is that if a baby girl is born in the developing world, her future is set to be far from rosy.
According to a recent report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) there is a widening gap between boys and girls in these regions of the world.
While they receive the same care and opportunities during early childhood, as they reach adolescence the anomalies in terms of health or education become marked.
“While there is little difference between boys and girls in early childhood with respect to nutrition, health, education and other basic indicators, differences by gender appear increasingly more pronounced during adolescence and young adulthood,” said UNICEF deputy executive director Geeta Rao Gupta.
If the seven billionth child born was a girl in the developed world, for instance in Europe, Japan or the United States, once she becomes a teenager she is likely to receive many of the same opportunities as her male peers.
Her education, health and career prospects may even exceed those of her male counterparts.
But if she is born in a region defined as ‘developing’ she is significantly more likely to be married as a child, less likely to be literate than young men in her country and, shockingly, should she be born in sub-Saharan Africa, is as many as four times more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than boys her age.
A World Bank working paper examined the real economic impact of excluding girls from learning or work opportunities.
For instance, just one teenage mother in India can lose $100,000 (£62,052) in potential income over her lifetime, while a single girl in Ethiopia who has dropped out of school can expect to lose the equivalent of two months’ average pay per year.
The financial impacts on the national economies is bigger still: the cost to India of the 3.8 million girls having children at the ages of 15 to 19 is $7.6 billion a year (£4.7 billion) – enough to fill every single car in the US with a full tank of petrol 100 times.
The denial of education to 4.5 million girls in Ethiopia costs the country $582 million (£361 million) a year.
So beyond the headlines about the seven billionth birth – which will come 12 years after the six billionth, a baby boy in Sarajevo – UNICEF chiefs are urging developing countries to improve the education prospects of their female citizens.
Increasing the availability of good and long-term schooling for girls will have a ‘ripple effect’ and help to break the cycle of poverty in those regions.
“Closing gender gaps in all stages of childhood and eliminating gender discrimination – whether against girls or boys – are fundamental to inclusive and sustained progress for countries around the world,” said Rao Gupta.
“In addition to the harmful and often tragic effects of gender inequalities on children themselves, the kinds of persistent inequalities that we continue to see… are major barriers to the efforts of many nations to move out of long-term poverty and achieve their development aspirations.”

Message of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC)

Posted: October 30, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Socio-Cultural

The Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum Based in Calgary, Alberta – Canada




You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:32)

We, the bishops of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, covering the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, met in Plenary Assembly at the Catholic Health Training Institute in Wau, South Sudan, from 19th – 28th October 2011 to pray and reflect about the new situation in our two nations, and to discern “the Church God wants us to be”.

We remain one bishops’ conference covering the two countries. As we wrote during our meeting in April 2011: “We are all children of God, regardless of geographical boundaries, ethnicity, religion, culture, or political affiliation, and we insist on respect for diversity”. The Church in the two nations will continue to be in solidarity due to our shared history and the very real practical and human links between us. We have set up two secretariats, one in Juba and one in Khartoum, to implement the pastoral policies of the bishops in each nation.

During nearly five decades of war, the infrastructure of the Church stayed with the people through its bishops, clergy, religious, catechists and other personnel, alongside our brothers and sisters from other churches. The Church is the people of God; wherever there were people, the Church was there. For much of that time it was the only institution which remained intact on the ground. As well as its pastoral and evangelical role proclaiming the Good News, the Church delivered basic social and humanitarian services and provided leadership and security in the absence of government or in the face of a hostile government. The Church mediated local and national conflicts, and played a decisive role in giving the voiceless a voice in the international arena. The Church will continue to play a public role in both nations. Our role is not political in any partisan sense. Rather we hold our two nations, both governments and citizens, accountable to Gospel values. We confront them with Truth.

To the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, we repeat what the bishops of South Sudan wrote in September 2011: “we recognise that ‘Rome was not built in a day’ and that the development of a new nation is a process which will take time. While constantly holding the government to account and always expecting progress, we nevertheless caution citizens to be patient in their demands, to be fair to the government and to allow them time to move forward carefully and in good order.” We emphasise that not only the government, but also all political leaders and citizens, have a responsibility to build the new nation.

To the citizens of the Republic of Sudan, we assure you of our continued presence. The Church is with you and will continue with its programmes which bring hope. We will pray and work for the rule of law, and particularly for a just solution to the question of citizenship.

We remain united in our concern for human dignity, the sanctity of human life, the common good, solidarity and basic human rights. Truth is indivisible. We reject talk of “protection of minorities” and instead insist on the rights of all citizens. We call for respect of human diversity, created by God, whether ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious. Human beings are created with God-given dignity and rights, which are spelled out in Catholic Social Teaching, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Our people have displayed great strength, courage and fortitude in the face of war and hardship, but they have been traumatised and cycles of resentment and revenge have been created. Trauma healing is an immediate priority. The Church, by its nature and mission, is a sign of reconciliation, and South Sudanese have demonstrated a remarkable ability to reconcile, both through traditional mechanisms and in the Church-led “People to People Peace Process”. Reconciliation within South Sudan will be essential in building a new nation, addressing the grievances and pain of many individuals and ethnic groups who feel they have been mistreated even by the state or those who misuse the powers entrusted to them. However a number of necessary conditions must be in place for this to happen successfully. These include education, security, and a degree of stability and political maturity. Eventually, when the time is ripe, a truth and reconciliation process should be developed. It is to be hoped that, with time, reconciliation (as opposed to mere absence of conflict) will also be possible between the two Republics. The Church will continue to do whatever it can to bring people together in Truth, Justice, Peace, Mercy, Love and Forgiveness.

We are deeply troubled by the ongoing violence in our two nations. Civil war has broken out in the Nuba Mountains / South Kordofan State and in Blue Nile State, alongside the ongoing war in Darfur. We have consistently warned of the danger of a return to hostilities if the legitimate aspirations of the people of these areas were not met. Civilians are being terrorised by indiscriminate aerial bombardment. There is an urgent need to open humanitarian corridors to allow food and medicines to reach those in need. The dispute over the status of Abyei has been militarised. We urge the international community, and particularly our brothers and sisters in the African Union, to ensure that these conflicts are resolved peacefully through the full implementation of the remaining protocols of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for these three areas, and to assist with outstanding issues between the two nations including citizenship and demarcation of boundaries.

In various parts of South Sudan, ethnic groups and individual leaders resort to violence to resolve their real or perceived disputes. Even as we meet, we hear of fresh conflict in Eastern Equatoria amongst some Madi and Acholi communities. We call for restraint from all concerned to allow their problems to be resolved peacefully. We are aware of tensions over land and boundaries in many parts of South Sudan, and we call on government, traditional leaders, youth and all stakeholders to acknowledge that there is a problem and to use peaceful and legal means to resolve these issues.

The people of Western Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal and neighbouring countries continue to suffer due to the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army. We reject further militarisation of any of these conflicts, and call upon governments and the international community to work for negotiated settlements. We call for increased protection and humanitarian assistance for the affected populations.

We call for open, transparent and democratic governance in both nations. The two nations must learn to live in peace with each other, but also with their own citizens. We reject all policies which oppress, marginalise and dehumanise any citizens. Both countries are poor, and all their energy should be devoted to development and peace. Government, like Church, is called to exercise responsible stewardship. Leadership should be viewed as service to the community, not personal power or profit, and corruption is unacceptable. Delivery of basic services to the citizens must be prioritised, and the Church will continue to play a major role, particularly in health and education. We recognise new problems of urbanisation, economic hardship, land grabbing and more, and we call upon all stakeholders to address these issues honestly and transparently.

“The Church God wants us to be” is at peace with people of good will in all Christian denominations and all faiths. We thus reaffirm our commitment to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. As a founder member of the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Ecumenical Forum, we look forward to playing a leading role in the restructuring of ecumenical bodies to reflect the new situation.

At the root of everything are the values of Catholic Social Teaching: human dignity, the common good, a recognition of both rights and duties, option for the poor, care for creation, solidarity, subsidiarity and participation, good governance, and the promotion of peace. Without these Gospel values to inform our consciences, we will not succeed.

We want to give a special word of encouragement to our pastoral agents. We recognise the selfless witness of our priests, religious men and women, catechists, teachers, health workers and other Church personnel, both local and missionary, who are the pillars of the Church. We are aware of the toll it has taken upon them. There is still much work to do: The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37). Go forward with our gratitude, our admiration and our blessing, with renewed commitment for evangelisation.

We call upon the faithful to pray continually, building on our 101 days of prayer for a peaceful referendum and our season of prayer for the Independence of South Sudan. Prayer is at the heart of “the Church that God wants us to be”.

May God bless you, through the intercession of St Josephine Bakhita and St Daniel Comboni.

Given in Wau, Republic of South Sudan, this 28thday of October 2011

Commonwealth leaders release CHOGM 2011 Communiqué

13. To welcome the interest shown by the Government of South Sudan in joining the Commonwealth, and to request the Commonwealth Secretariat to pursue the established procedures in this regard.

30 October 2011

Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Perth, Australia, from 28 to 30 October 2011, under the theme ‘Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience’. Reflecting on the unique nature of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association which brings together 54[1] developing and developed nations from six continents, Heads reaffirmed their commitment to the values and principles of the Commonwealth and agreed to a series of actions to maintain the Commonwealth’s relevance, to ensure its effectiveness in responding to contemporary global challenges and to build resilient societies and economies. Given the significant challenges facing the global economy, Heads emphasised the importance of the international community working cooperatively to secure a sustainable global recovery. Heads highlighted the importance of a strong response to these challenges to provide the necessary confidence to global markets.

Heads welcomed the report of the Eminent Persons Group, ‘A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform’, and thanked members of the Group for their outstanding work. They agreed that the report provided a strong basis to revitalise the Commonwealth and its institutions and ensure its continued relevance to member states and their people – today and in the future.

To this end, Heads agreed to the following:

1. Reform of the Commonwealth to ensure that it is a more effective institution, responsive to members’ needs, and capable of tackling the significant global challenges of the 21st century.

This includes:

a) the reform of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG);

b) consideration of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) recommendations on reform;

c) strengthening the management and delivery of Commonwealth programmes, including through regular review of their efficiency, effectiveness and results, against measurable indicators;

d) to this end, focusing delivery of practical assistance to members through greater prioritisation and alignment of programmes to members’ priorities on the basis of Commonwealth comparative advantage and, where necessary, retiring programmes that do not meet these criteria; and

e) undertaking associated reform of the Commonwealth Secretariat and ensuring the adequacy of resources and their appropriate use to enable it to deliver on its agreed mandates.

2. To actively promote, uphold, preserve and defend the fundamental values, principles and aspirations of the Commonwealth. Heads agreed to do this by:

a) agreeing to the recommendations of CMAG to strengthen the role of CMAG, in order to enable the Group to deal with the full range of serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values;

b) resolving that the composition of CMAG for the next biennium should be as follows: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Maldives, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu.

c) agreeing that there should be a “Charter of the Commonwealth”, as proposed by the Eminent Persons Group, embodying the principles contained in previous declarations, drawn together in a single, consolidated document that is not legally binding.

d) Heads will agree to a text for the Charter in 2012, following a process of national consultations, consideration by a Task Force of Ministers drawn from all geographical groupings of the Commonwealth, and a full meeting of Foreign Ministers in New York in September;

e) tasking the Secretary-General and CMAG to further evaluate relevant options relating to the EPG’s proposal for a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights and to report back to Foreign Ministers at their September meeting in New York;

f) noting that the EPG’s recommendations relating to CMAG were consistent with the CMAG reforms adopted by Heads at this meeting;

g) responding to the remaining EPG recommendations as follows

i. adopting without reservation 30 recommendations;

ii. adopting, subject to consideration of financial implications, 12 further recommendations;

iii. asking the Task Force of Ministers (para 2(d) above) to provide more detailed advice on 43 other recommendations to Foreign Ministers at their September meeting in New York, as a basis for further decision by Heads; and

iv. deeming 11 recommendations inappropriate for adoption.

h) strengthening the newly established Commonwealth Network of Election Management Bodies as well as election monitoring, and supporting capacity building for professional election administrators;

i) urging the interim government of Fiji to restore democracy without further delay, to respect human rights, and to uphold the rule of law, and reaffirming that the Commonwealth should continue to remain engaged with Fiji and support efforts towards that end;

j) urging members to consider becoming parties to all major international human rights instruments; to implement fully the rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as those human rights treaties to which they are a party; to uphold these rights and freedoms; to share best practice and lessons learned, including from the United Nations Universal Periodic Review process; and to continue to support the work of National Human Rights Institutions; and

k) promoting tolerance, respect, understanding and religious freedom which, inter alia, are essential to the development of free and democratic societies.

3. Revitalising the Commonwealth’s development priorities to ensure it effectively articulates and meets the development needs of member states today and in the future. To this end, Heads:

a) agreed the Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles;

b) reflected on the multiple development challenges confronting small states in the global economy as a result of their inherent vulnerabilities, and agreed that this is having an adverse impact on their sustainable development and growth prospects; and in this context:

i. welcomed and endorsed the outcomes of the first Global Biennial Conference of Small States held in 2010;

ii. endorsed the outcomes of the Commonwealth and Developing Small States meeting, which stressed in relation to Commonwealth and developing small states, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS): the importance of taking urgent action on climate change and sustainable development, particularly through the G20, the UN climate change conference in Durban, and Rio+20; the need to work towards legally binding outcomes under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) capable of avoiding dangerous climate change; the need for enhanced action on adaptation and transparent and accessible climate finance to support developing small states; the need for practical outcomes at Rio+20 on the ‘blue economy’ to ensure the sustainable management of our oceans as the basis for livelihoods, food security and economic development; and for Commonwealth G20 members to reflect these concerns and perspectives at the upcoming G20 summit;

iii. agreed that vulnerability to climate change is widespread and particularly affects small states. The Commonwealth has an important role to play in advancing the climate change priorities of Commonwealth small and vulnerable states as well as fostering mutual collaboration among Commonwealth countries in order to address such priorities;

iv. agreed to assist small and climate vulnerable states develop their capacity to respond in a timely and effective way to disasters and to build their national disaster response capabilities;

v. welcomed the establishment of the Commonwealth Office for Small States in Geneva and urged further support for it;

vi. considered the substantive work that the Commonwealth has done on the issue of small states, including on SIDS, and called for this expertise to be shared with other international institutions, such as the UN, which are involved in the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy and the Barbados Programme of Action;

c) recalled the Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus and noted the undisputed threat that climate change poses to the security, prosperity and economic and social development of the people, as well as the impact it has in terms of deepening poverty and affecting the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and reaffirmed their commitment to work towards a shared vision for long-term cooperative action to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC, addressing mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building in a balanced, integrated and comprehensive manner; in this context:

i. committed to advocate for these actions at the UNFCCC conference in Durban and beyond, for legally binding outcomes;

ii. committed to work together to build climate resilience and to facilitate the efficient mobilisation of funding for urgent and effective mitigation, adaptation and capacity building, prioritising the most vulnerable developing countries, including small island developing states; and recognised the importance of markets in maximising global emission reductions at the least possible cost, and the promotion of technology transfer to these countries;

iii. recognising the existential impact of climate change on coastal and island communities, emphasised the great importance of building national resilience to ameliorate local climate change-induced population displacement, as well as the imperative to reach strong and effective solutions to reduce global emissions and enhance multilateral, regional and bilateral cooperation on adaptation;

iv. committed to practical action in line with the Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan, including efforts to facilitate immediate access to climate change finance and technology transfer, especially for mitigation and adaptation;

d) agreed to focus on practical and ambitious outcomes at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 to address the challenges facing this and future generations, including with a view to expediting implementation of the outcomes of the Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; in this regard:

i. committed to advocate urgent action at Rio+20 to assist developing states to build resilience through sustainable development, in particular by taking steps to transition towards green growth trajectories and to strengthen institutional frameworks for achieving this transition. Rio+20 should deliver an outcome which allows progress to be measured in a meaningful way. The value of natural resources should be given due consideration in economic decision-making;

ii. agreed to explore options for sharing best practice on resource management and promote initiatives to provide access to monitoring, research, education and training, and technical and policy expertise;

iii. welcomed the briefing they received on the emerging conclusions of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability;

iv. recognised the need to preserve the policy space of countries to frame their own national strategies to prioritise according to their national circumstances;

v. supported and upheld the role and place of local government, in partnership with the private sector, for promoting strategies for localism, sustainable development and economic growth, and supported the implementation of the Cardiff Consensus for Local Economic Development in the Commonwealth;

vi. recognised the valuable role clean and renewable energy will play in a sustainable future and the importance of promoting the implementation of green technology;

vii. recognised the importance of energy security through improved efficiency measures and the promotion of clean and affordable energy, including renewable energy;

viii. recognised also the need for sustainable management of oceans for livelihoods, food security and economic development;

ix. emphasised that poverty eradication and the provision of universal access to energy for all remain important priorities and that the green economy is a pathway to achieve these objectives on the basis of the Rio Principles of Sustainable Development;

e) agreed to promote more effective natural resource management through greater transparency and better governance, and taking account of the values of natural capital in decision-making, build on the Commonwealth’s longstanding practical contributions to member governments in this area. To that end:

i. agreed to build capacity in and share best practice on resource management, and welcomed members’ initiatives to provide access to research, education and training, and technical and policy expertise;

ii. welcomed the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative principles and encouraged Commonwealth countries to consider supporting or implementing them;

iii. committed to combating the illegal exploitation of natural resources, including through supporting the Lusaka Declaration of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region;

f) agreed to promote inclusive education and to accelerate efforts to achieve quality universal primary education, in line with the MDGs and Education For All goals. They further agreed to:

i. help children attain basic levels of literacy and numeracy by strengthening international mechanisms and cooperation, including through new technologies;

ii. create opportunities for skills development and quality secondary and higher education;

iii. call for a successful completion of the first replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education in Copenhagen in November 2011;

g) committed to universal access to health care, and services to improve maternal and reproductive health, supporting access to safe, affordable and quality medicines, and support for all Commonwealth people by accelerating the implementation of international conventions and eradicating disease by improving domestic health strategies and immunisation systems. Heads agreed to do this by:

i. accelerating action and financial support to eradicate polio including by improving routine immunisation systems;

ii. accelerating implementation of the Political Declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases and the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;

iii. committing to accelerating action to implement the objectives outlined in the 2011 UN Political Declaration on AIDS;

iv. recognising that malaria is one of the leading causes of death and a major obstacle to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty alleviation, agreeing to work proactively with key stakeholders and partners towards accelerated implementation of strategies to reduce malarial morbidity and mortality in member countries;

v. addressing malnutrition, measles, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea as leading causes of death for children under five, as well as prevalent diseases such as tuberculosis and rotavirus, including through proven international mechanisms such as the GAVI Alliance;

h) committed to maximise the economic and social benefits of migration to improve the resilience and prosperity of Commonwealth members, whilst addressing the challenges posed by irregular migration which undermines legal migration policies. They:

i. called for stronger international cooperation to manage migration effectively in countries of origin, transit and destination, in order to bolster migration’s positive effects and to enhance safety nets for migrants;

ii. called for cooperation in the fight against irregular migration, including in particular the readmission of own nationals staying irregularly in other states, in accordance with bilateral agreements and international obligations;

iii. in this context, articulated the link between migration and development, affirming the importance of adopting migration strategies that would reduce the cost of migration, and create incentives for diaspora communities to invest their financial resources and expertise in the development of their countries of origin;

iv. noted and encouraged participation in the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which Mauritius will host in 2012;

i) agreed to work together, provide financial support to, and make the policy and institutional changes needed to accelerate achieving the MDGs; and:

i. directed the Commonwealth Secretariat to assist members in having their priorities reflected at the special event to be organised by the President of the Sixty-Eighth session of the UN General Assembly to take stock of efforts made towards achieving the MDGs;

j) called for renewed international commitment to the principles of aid effectiveness to achieve the MDGs by 2015, more imperative than ever in the current challenging global economic and financial environment and, in this regard, noted with appreciation the Commonwealth Statement on Accelerating Development with More Effective Aid, and expressed their desire to achieve a successful outcome at the Fourth High-Level Forum in Busan;

k) welcomed the launch of the Commonwealth Connects portal as a contemporary platform for networking, building partnerships and strengthening the Commonwealth’s values and effectiveness, and encouraged its use; and

l) reiterated their support for the Commonwealth Connects programme which is encouraging greater effort from member countries to harness the benefits provided by technology, through promoting strategic partnerships, building ICT capacity and sharing ICT expertise; encouraged member countries to contribute to the Commonwealth Connects Special Fund; and requested the Secretariat’s continued support for the programme.

4. Working together and with global partners to secure the global economic recovery and ensure a stronger, more sustainable and balanced global economic system that will benefit all Commonwealth countries, by:


a) committing to avoid trade protectionism and advocating the importance of an open, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system as a driver of global growth and to support development, and in this context:

i. congratulated the thirteen Commonwealth countries that have agreed to formal negotiations to create an African Free Trade Area, covering 26 countries from the Cape to Cairo, by 2014;

b) committing also to support regional economic integration, enhancing market access and building the capacity of LDCs, land-locked developing states, and other small and vulnerable economies, including SIDS, to participate in and benefit from the global trading and economic system and to further encourage pan-Commonwealth trade;

c) reaffirming their commitment to pursuing development-oriented and ambitious results in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Round, but noting with grave concern the impasse in current negotiations and calling upon WTO members to make substantive progress at the Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011 for an early conclusion of the Doha Round, they:

i. reaffirmed the role of the World Trade Organization in making rules which keep pace with demands generated by global economic shifts, help police protectionist measures, and contribute to a sustainable global economic recovery;

ii. urged the international community to accelerate efforts to enhance market access for LDCs, land-locked developing states and SIDS at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference;

iii. urged support for an anti-protectionist pledge at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference;

iv. considered innovative approaches to drive forward trade liberalisation and to strengthen the multilateral rules-based trading system;

v. further reaffirmed the importance of sustained and predictable Aid for Trade in strengthening the capacity of developing country members, in particular small and vulnerable economies, to become more competitive and better able to capture opportunities created by more open regional and global markets. To this end, Heads called for continued support for Aid for Trade and improved disbursement procedures at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference;

d) urging the G20 to take the necessary steps to address current economic instability and to take concrete steps to put open trade, jobs, social protection and economic development at the heart of the recovery. This will provide the necessary confidence to global markets and ensure a more stable global economic environment. In support of this, Commonwealth countries:

i. committed to take all necessary steps to support the global economic recovery;

ii. supported ongoing high-level political engagement with the G20 chair and, in this context, welcomed the interaction of the Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie with the Chair of the G20, as initiated in 2010;

iii. agreed that Commonwealth G20 members would undertake to convey Commonwealth members’ perspectives and priority concerns to the G20 Summit in Cannes, France;

iv. agreed to launch an annual officials-level Commonwealth meeting on the G20 development agenda, building on the Commonwealth’s current contributions to the G20 Development Working Group; and

e) agreeing to reduce the cost of remittance transfers by removing barriers to remitting and encouraging greater competition in the transfer market, by endorsing the World Bank’s General Principles for International Remittance Services

i. in line with this, Commonwealth countries committed to implement practical measures at the national level to reduce the cost of remittances.

5. Improving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the Commonwealth by:

a) supporting national programmes to this effect, including initiatives to eliminate gender-based violence, intensifying efforts to promote women’s decision-making roles at all levels, and continuing to improve advocacy for women’s leadership and the empowerment of women as leaders;

b) implementing international instruments and agreements on women’s rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Commonwealth’s Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015, and the ‘Joint Statement on Advancing Women’s Political Participation’[2] and UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1325, 1888 and 1889;[3]

c) applauding the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat in promoting the significance of the 2011 Commonwealth Day Theme “Women as Agents of Change” and the centrality of gender equality and the empowerment of women to achieving the MDGs;

d) directing the Commonwealth Secretariat to institutionalise the principles of gender mainstreaming, as enshrined in the Commonwealth Plan of Action; and to provide recommendations to Heads, through the Tenth Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (WAMM) on steps that need to be taken to mainstream gender equality across all Commonwealth work; and to make real progress on implementation of the Plan of Action;

e) supporting the call made by Ministers at the Ninth WAMM held in Bridgetown, Barbados in June 2010, for a more effective response from all actors in the global community to the disproportionately negative impact of the current international and national economic crises on women; and

f) giving due consideration to the domestic legislation of member countries, the Commonwealth may address the issue of early and forced marriage, and consider actions to support the rights of women and children and to share its best practices to promote the implementation of measures to tackle early and forced marriage.

6. Providing a greater voice and more effective role for youth in the Commonwealth, who represent over 50 per cent of the Commonwealth population, by:


a) directing the Commonwealth Secretariat to undertake an assessment of the Commonwealth’s progress on the Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment, to be submitted with recommendations to Heads, through the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in 2012, on steps that need to be taken to improve youth engagement and empowerment;

b) enhancing communication with youth, collecting and sharing good practices, and ensuring the voice of youth is represented in Commonwealth actions at the national and international level; and

c) recognising the important role of government, the private sector and technical and vocational training institutions in addressing youth unemployment and the vital importance of sport in assisting young people to stay healthy, contribute to society and develop into leaders of their communities.

7. Maintaining their commitment to a stable and secure national and international environment, as a foundation for sustainable growth and resilience for Commonwealth countries and the broader international community. Heads committed to improve international security by:

a) unequivocally preventing the use of their territories for the support, incitement to violence or commission of terrorist acts, implementing the necessary legal framework for the suppression of terrorist financing, and preventing the raising and use of funds by terrorists, terrorist front organisations, and transnational terrorist organisations;

b) accelerating efforts to conclude negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism;

c) accelerating efforts to combat piracy in a manner consistent with international law and to strengthen maritime security, including through enhancing the capacity of coastal states;

d) urging the international community to recognise that the menace of piracy in the Indian Ocean cannot be effectively tackled in the absence of political stability and security in Somalia; urging concerted efforts towards strengthening the Transitional Federal Government and other state institutions, including the security sector; encouraging the international community to mobilise additional funding for AMISOM, as appropriate; and encouraging global support in combating piracy and terrorism, including through enhanced maritime security;

e) encouraging states to continue supporting the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in its coordination of international counter-piracy efforts;

f) combating proliferation and trafficking of illicit small arms and light weapons;

g) embracing moderation as an important value to overcome all forms of extremism, as called for in the ‘Global Movement of the Moderates’;

h) encouraging participation in the 2012 Diplomatic Conference to negotiate on the basis of consensus an effective Arms Trade Treaty which is of broad universal acceptance;

i) improving legislation and capacity in tackling cyber crime and other cyber space security threats, including through the Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum’s Cyber Crime Initiative;

j) affirming support for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and its Seventh Review Conference in December 2011; and

k) continuing to tackle the root causes of conflict, including through the promotion of democracy, development and strong legitimate institutions.

8. Combating people smuggling and human trafficking by clamping down on illicit criminal organisations and bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, while protecting and supporting the victims of trafficking. Heads committed to:

a) fight people-smuggling as part of their broader efforts to maintain border integrity and manage migration, including through enhancing border security and regional cooperation;

b) put in place the necessary legal and administrative framework to address the challenge of human trafficking; and affirmed their commitment to the principle of solidarity and cooperation between states with regard to the identification, assistance and protection of victims of trafficking; and

c) comply with all obligations arising under international law and urged all countries to become parties to and implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocols thereto, in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.

9. To promote the future of the Commonwealth through the strong and important voice of its people by:

a) welcoming the contribution made by inter-governmental, associated and other Commonwealth organisations, including the Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth of Learning, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Commonwealth Business Council, Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management;

b) urging Commonwealth organisations and civil society to enhance Commonwealth networks and partnerships with a view to achieving the fundamental values and aspirations of the Commonwealth;

c) relaunching the Commonwealth Foundation in 2012, while retaining its fundamental intergovernmental nature and maintaining its accountability to member states, with a revised mandate and Memorandum of Understanding so that it can more effectively deliver the objectives of strengthening and mobilising civil society in support of Commonwealth principles and priorities; and

d) welcoming the outcomes of the Commonwealth People’s Forum, Business Forum, and Youth Forum.

10. To reaffirm previous CHOGM Communiqués on Cyprus and express full support for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus and the efforts of the leaders of the two communities, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices Mission, to bring about a comprehensive Cyprus settlement, based on the UN Charter and the relevant UNSCRs for a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality and a single citizenship, in a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality as described in the relevant UNSCRs. Heads called for the implementation of UNSCRs, in particular 365 (1974), 541 (1983), 550 (1984), and 1251 (1999) and reiterated their support for the full respect of the human rights of all Cypriots and for the accounting for all missing persons. To extend their full support and solidarity to the Republic of Cyprus in the exercise of its sovereign rights under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to explore and exploit the natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone.

11. To note recent developments in the ongoing efforts of Belize to seek a just, peaceful and definitive resolution to Guatemala’s territorial claims. Heads noted that, due to the electoral campaigns scheduled in both Belize and Guatemala in the coming months, it was envisaged that the earliest date for the referenda required to submit the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be in late 2013. Heads expressed a high level of confidence that the dispute could be resolved through the judicial procedure of the ICJ, and urged the support and financial assistance of the international community for this process. Heads further expressed satisfaction with the ongoing Confidence Building Measures supported by the Organization of American States, which had contributed immensely to stability in the adjacent border areas of Belize and Guatemala. They noted with concern the environmental problems being faced by Belize in its national parks along its adjacent areas with Guatemala due to the increasing encroachments by Guatemalan citizens for illegal logging. Heads reiterated their firm support for the territorial integrity, security and sovereignty of Belize, and mandated the Secretary-General to continue to convene the Commonwealth Ministerial Committee on Belize whenever necessary.

12. Having received a report on Guyana-Venezuela relations, to express their satisfaction that the relations between the two countries continued to grow and deepen. Heads noted that the Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Venezuela had met recently in Trinidad and Tobago to address the concerns of the Government of Venezuela over Guyana’s submission of a claim to an extended continental shelf to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Heads expressed the view that the current climate in the relations between Guyana and Venezuela was conducive to the realisation of the mandate of the UN Good Offices Process. Heads reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the maintenance and safeguarding of Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

13. To welcome the interest shown by the Government of South Sudan in joining the Commonwealth, and to request the Commonwealth Secretariat to pursue the established procedures in this regard.

14. To look forward to the conditions being created for the return of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth and continue to encourage the parties to implement the Global Political Agreement faithfully and effectively.

15. To congratulate the Head of the Commonwealth on her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Heads welcomed proposed Commonwealth initiatives to mark this historic occasion, in particular the establishment of a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which would be funded by private donations and voluntary contributions from governments. This will support charitable projects and organisations across the Commonwealth, focusing on areas such as tackling curable diseases, the promotion of all forms of education and culture and other Commonwealth priorities.


16. To reappoint Mr Kamalesh Sharma as Commonwealth Secretary-General for a further four-year term commencing April 2012.

17. Finally, to reaffirm their decisions to meet next in Sri Lanka in 2013 and thereafter in Mauritius in 2015, as well as to welcome the offer by Malaysia to host the 2019 CHOGM.



30 October 2011

Saturday, 29 October 2011

South Sudan, the world’s newest nation became a member of the United Nations on July 14 and joined the African Union on July 28. (Photo by AFP)

South Sudan, the world’s newest nation became a member of the United Nations on July 14 and joined the African Union on July 28. (Photo by AFP)


The world’s newest nation, South Sudan, wants to join the Commonwealth, the bloc’s Assistant Secretary General Stephen Cutts said Saturday.

The landlocked African country, which declared independence from Sudan in July after a long civil war, had recognized the potential benefits of becoming part of the 54-nation grouping, Cutts said.

“The newest country on Earth, South Sudan, expressed an interest in joining the Commonwealth almost immediately after it came into existence,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation television.

“I understand there are other countries (interested in joining),” he added, without naming the nations.

Cutts said South Sudan’s interest showed that the Commonwealth, comprised mainly of former British colonies, remained relevant and offered benefits to its members.

“I think it’s testament to the fact that in the broader world there is recognition that the Commonwealth has a potential for significant value,” he said.

A Commonwealth business forum which preceded this week’s leaders’ meeting in Perth resulted in deals worth some $10.5 billion, most centered on the African resources sector, organizers estimate.

South Sudan gained independence from the mainly Arab north after its population of more than eight million, who are predominantly Christian or follow traditional African religions, overwhelmingly backed a referendum on secession in January.

The fledgling nation, which is also one of the world’s poorest countries, became a member of the United Nations on July 14 and joined the African Union on July 28.

Neither of the two countries that have most recently joined the Commonwealth, Rwanda and Mozambique, have colonial links to Britain.

South Sudan Turns Toward British Heritage

Published: October 29, 2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The new nation of South Sudan has expressed a desire to join the Commonwealth, a group composed mainly of former British colonies, and said that it would change the language used in schools from Arabic to English. The two actions further cement its pivot from the Arab world of northern Africa toward the largely Anglophone east.

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July, ending decades of civil war in which the Arab-dominated north tried to forcibly convert the south to Islam, building mosques and burning down villages.

A spokesman for the Commonwealth, Manoah Esipisu, said Saturday that South Sudan had “expressed an interest in joining” the organization, formerly known as the British Commonwealth.

“An informal assessment will be taken by the secretary general,” and then member states will be consulted, Mr. Esipisu said in a telephone interview from Perth, Australia, where the group was holding a summit meeting. He said the process was estimated to take two years.

In a separate development, officials announced this week that the language used in schools would be changed from Arabic to English.

Though much of South Sudan’s population grew up speaking Arabic, the country has instituted changes in the way it is run to reflect its political aspirations, as well as its close geographic and economic proximity to East Africa.

Uganda and Kenya, both former British colonies, are among South Sudan’s largest trading partners, and government officials have spoken of building an oil pipeline to Kenya to connect to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa as an alternative to sending its oil to the northern Sudanese government in Khartoum.

This month, South Sudan also reiterated its interest in joining the East African Community economic bloc, which it neighbors.

“We are not dragging our feet,” said President Salva Kiir, according to a statement issued by the bloc, “we are coming.”

Murder suspect goes to court
Murder suspect goes to court: Watch Peter Deng Mayen, who has been charge in the murder of Bruce Richard Walters on Sunday night, walks to a court hearing
Peter Deng Mayen is escorted to court Monday. He is accused in the slaying of his neighbor, Bruce Walters. / Emily Spartz / Argus Leader
Neighbors’ squabbles boiled over into fatal shooting
Police called 17 times this year over feuding

The fifth homicide of the year in Sioux Falls is described by friends and police as a deadly bubbling over of a long-simmering dispute between neighbors. It was marked by harassment and threats of violence and ended Sunday night in a shooting death.

A judge Monday set bond at $1 million cash for Peter Deng Mayen, 29, who is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 51-year-old Bruce Richard Walters in northeast Sioux Falls.

Police say Mayan approached his neighbor with a handgun at 8:30 p.m. at his home, 1505 E. Sage Place, and shot him at least five times. By the time officers arrived, Walters was dead on his porch from wounds to his chest. Mayen was apprehended at a friend’s house shortly after the killing.

Before Sunday night, the police had been called to resolve conflicts between them 17 times this year, and both men had accused the other of threatening to use a gun. The calls involved varying reports of noise complaints, disorderly conduct or juvenile delinquency, and both households had repeatedly asked for police intervention. On nine of those occasions, police were called to Mayen’s house. Eight of the calls were directed to a disturbance at Walters’ address.

Accused shooter wanted police help

“(Police) would say. ‘You guys just ignore him,’ ” Aware Geu Mayen, Peter Dent’s wife, said outside the courtroom Monday. “We needed the police to be there before what happened yesterday.”

Police spokesman Sam Clemens said such advice is common in disputes between neighbors, especially when no actual violence is reported.

Peter Mayen was cited once this summer for making unreasonable noise. That was the only one of the 17 calls that resulted in a police report.

“You need to have a crime committed before you can arrest someone,” Clemens said. “And arresting someone isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem if you live next door.”

Much of Sunday’s incident was caught on video. Walters had installed a surveillance system in his home because of tension between the households.

Investigators now are trying to piece together what specifically led to the vicious uptick in violence on Sunday, Clemens said.

What is known: Peter Mayen approached his neighbor with a handgun at at 8:30 p.m. at his home after walking by with his elementary school-aged children and dropping them off at a friend’s house, Clemens said. Peter Mayen and Walters exchanged words as the suspect walked by the garage and back to his home. Mayen then returned and shot him.

“What was said, what was not said, that’s kind of up in the air,” Clemens said.

Friends and family of both men were in court Monday, filling the first and second rows of the small sixth-floor courtroom and weeping as Judge Alan Dietrich read the charge and the name of the victim.

Two lawyers with the Minnehaha County public defender’s office declined to argue for their client’s pre-trial release, and Dietrich set a cash-only bond at the amount requested by Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan.

McGowan told Dietrich that Peter Mayen “made admissions” in the shooting.

After the hearing, Aware Mayen said Walters had harassed and threatened the Sudanese couple and their four children for months, telling them to “go back where they came from.”

‘This guy was really scaring us’

The family was ready to move to a new house, she said.

“This guy was really scaring us,” Aware Mayen said. “No one believed it until this happened.”

Walters’ family and friends declined to comment on the situation outside the courtroom. One woman, who did not wish to be identified, said, “All I can say is he did not deserve that.”

Neighbors said the Mayens played a part in the ongoing conflict as well.

Paul and Jeanette Granum live across the street from Walters and heard the shots from their dining room table hours after joining the couple for a Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride.

“They were young enough to be our children, but they were just really good friends,” Jeanette Granum said of Walters and his wife.

The Granums said they never saw or heard any of the disputes, but they knew about the problems.

Reach reporter John Hult at 350-5998.

Anti-Christian Backlash After South Sudan’s Secession

Posted: October 27, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Socio-Cultural

Churches attacked and threatened with demolition as Bashir reiterates promise to make Sudan strictly Islamic.

Compass Direct News | posted 10/26/2011

Emboldened by government calls for a Sudan based on Islamic law since the secession of South Sudan, Muslim residents have attacked Christians trying to finish constructing their church building near Khartoum. Meanwhile, local authorities are threatening to demolish three other church buildings that already exist.

Muslims in the north, where an estimated 1 million Christians still live following the secession of South Sudan on July 9, fear the potential influence of the church, they said.

“They want to reduce or restrict the number of churches, so that they can put more pressure on believers,” said a church leader on condition of anonymity.

The Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) congregation in Omdurman West, across the Nile River from Khartoum, has continued to meet for Sunday worship in a building without a roof in spite of opposition from area Muslims and local authorities. Claiming that Christianity was no longer an accepted religion in the country, Muslims in the Hay al Sawra, Block 29 area of Omdurman West on August 5 attacked SCOC members who were constructing the church building, area sources said.

“We do not want any presence of churches in our area,” shouted members of the mob as they threw stones at the Christians, the sources said.

The SCOC has been trying to erect a church building on the site since it obtained the land in 1997, but both government officials and area Muslim residents have used delay tactics to prevent it, according to a Christian who lives in the area. The SCOC in that area of Omdurman is still trying to get permission from the Islamic government in Khartoum to construct the new church building, Christian sources in Khartoum said.

In Madinat al Fath, a different section of Omdurman, leaders from SCOC, the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the Roman Catholic Church said they were surprised to see government officials come to their church premises September 11 and accuse them of operating churches on government land without permission. Officials from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Public Utilities-Khartoum State marked the three church buildings for demolition with red crosses, saying, “We are going to demolish these churches,” the church leaders said.

Jaafer al Sudani, manager of Church Affairs in the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment, said officials there had no knowledge of church buildings to be demolished. The state planning officials insist that the churches are operating on government land. Church leaders say they are not.

No Christians?

In Omdurman West, the issue is less about government land than it is about Christian presence. Muslims and local “popular committees”—responsible for issuing residence certificates necessary for obtaining citizenship or an ID card, with authority to strike down proposals for erecting church buildings—assert that no church is necessary because there are no Christians there. But there are many Christians living in the area, sources said.

The government-appointed members of the popular committees tend to consist of radical Muslims who monitor Christian activities in neighborhoods so they can report them to security authorities, Christian sources said. Previously, area Christians were upset to learn that the popular committees had divided another piece of land they hoped to obtain into two lots—one designated for a mosque, and the other for a Muslim school.

“We have already raised our objection over the way we are being treated in regards to obtaining permission to build this church,” said a church leader who wished to remain unnamed.

The church had filed a complaint with the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, which last month informed the SCOC that officials will investigate the matter, though they gave no time frame.

Secret surveys

Area Christians said they believe the government is quietly carrying out surveys on Christians and church programs as part of a broader effort to make Islam the official state religion; officials from the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment have called church leaders, asking them to reveal information about their church members and activities of the Churches, they said.

“This is purely for intelligence purposes, so that they can put more restrictions on churches and Christians,” said the Rev. Yousif El-Denger Kodi, general secretary of the Sudanese Lutheran Church. “We as church leaders are aware of their plans, but we pray for God to rescue us from their evil plans.”

Members of the churches threatened with closure they are experiencing a growing tide of hostility since South Sudan’s secession. “These people can do everything possible to clear this country of Christianity,” said one.

Targeting Christian civilians

Sudanese Christian leaders also say efforts to rid the north of Christianity are to blame for the deaths of several civilians in South Kordofan state, about 370 miles southwest of Khartoum.

A Christian in the Leri East area of Kadugli who escaped Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) intelligence agents 18 days after his June 20 arrest from his home said he saw six other Christian detainees taken away, one by one, to be executed over the course of two weeks.

“They were insulting us, saying that this land is an Islamic land and that we were not allowed to be in this land,” he said. “I saw them take my fellow Christian brothers and shoot them in the forest near the place where we were detained. … I was praying despite the fact they were threatening me that I would face the same fate of the six brothers.”

While the SAF and its paramilitary allies have targeted members and supporters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement forces, the Christian, who requested anonymity as he is still in hiding, said he was detained simply because he was a Christian. A convert from Islam 10 years ago, he said he was scheduled to be executed the day he escaped.

Earlier this month, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir again asserted that the government has decided that Sudan will have a strictly Islamic identity. Al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur, made the statement to leaders of his party in Khartoum on October 12.

Last December, one month before South Sudan’s vote for independence, Al-Bashir declared that if the south seceded as expected, Sudan would amend its constitution to make sharia (Islamic law) the only source of law and Arabic the official language. Sharia is currently only “a source of legislation” according to the Interim National Constitution, but the U.S. Department of State says Islam is favored in law and policy.

This article combines several Compass Direct News reports from Sudan.

Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.

Protecting Cattle Saves People

Posted: October 25, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Economy, Socio-Cultural

By Jared Ferrie

A member of the Mundari tribe stands amongst cattle in Terekeka, South Sudan. / Credit:Jared Ferrie/IPS
A member of the Mundari tribe stands amongst cattle in Terekeka, South Sudan.

TEREKEKA, South Sudan, Oct 25, 2011 (IPS) – With his bright orange hair, Angelo Waranyang cuts a striking figure as he strides amongst his cattle. His hair colour – dyed with a mixture of cow urine and ash from burnt dung – is symbolic of the close connection that he and the majority of South Sudanese have with their revered animals.

In fact, there are more cattle than people in South Sudan. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) puts the number of cattle at about 11 million, and it estimates that 80 percent of the country’s approximately eight million people depend on the animals for their survival.

With the FAO warning that South Sudan will likely produce only enough food to feed half its people next year, a push to vaccinate cattle against deadly diseases has taken on added urgency.

Preventing outbreaks of disease could stave off hunger, as well as mitigate violence that arises when herders attempt to steal cattle from neighbouring tribes after suffering losses to their own herds.

Waranyang, who hails from the Mundari ethnic group, welcomed the vaccination campaign, noting that he had already lost 25 cows to disease this year.

The FAO and South Sudan’s Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry would like to vaccinate 70 percent of South Sudan’s livestock (including 19 million sheep and goats), according to Edward Ogolla, a communications officer with FAO.

But he admitted that the figure could be achieved only “in a perfect situation.”

The situation in South Sudan is far from perfect. When the country became the world’s newest nation after seceding from the north on Jul. 9, it also became one of the poorest. While rich in oil, revenues from resources in the south had been diverted to the north for decades by Khartoum leaving the region one of the least developed in the world.

The vaccination campaign is hampered by lack of funding and trained personnel, insecurity and poor infrastructure, to name just a few challenges, Ogolla said.

The recent vaccination exercise in Terekeka underscores the point. The community is only about 80 kilometres from the capital Juba, and is considered quite accessible, but it took almost three hours to arrive after driving down rough, rutted, dirt roads littered with water-filled potholes the size of small ponds.

Of a total of 21 million animals, the FAO is targeting five million for vaccination this year. Officials say the campaign is becoming more important as South Sudan faces rising food insecurity due to weather patterns, insecurity and a large influx of southerners who are returning from the north to take up residence in their newly independent homeland.

“These diseases, especially east coast fever, can (result in) up to a 100 percent of the animals getting sick, and you can get up to 90 to a 100 percent mortality, which means it can wipe out the whole herd,” said George Okech, head of the FAO in South Sudan.

The team was also vaccinating against black quarter fever and haemorrhagic septicemia.

“If a disease were to come by and wipe (out) these (herds, people) would easily be tempted to go to the neighbouring county and try and get the animals from there,” said Okech. “And that definitely would be a cause of conflict.”

Cattle rustling attacks are common in South Sudan and were one of the main causes of death in the first half of this year, which was the most violent six months since the civil war ended in 2005. The U.N. said 2,368 civilians had died as of July, compared with 940 last year.

Cattle raiding is also holding back economic development, according to a 2010 study by the Netherlands Development Agency (SNV), which pointed to a large unmet local demand despite South Sudan’s vast herds.

“Despite the potential of home grown Sudanese livestock sources, large volumes of livestock and livestock products are imported from neighbouring Uganda to meet the demand in Juba,” said the report, which put the blame partly on cattle rustling.

“That’s a stumbling block for attempts to improve livestock sales at community level, because the animals can be easily stolen when they are being taken to market,” SNV noted.

FAO officials say a cow or bull can fetch anywhere between 300 and 800 dollars. With 11 million head of cattle in South Sudan, these herds represent vast potential for economic growth – provided they can be kept safe from disease. (END)

South Sudan’s first daughter Adut’s wedding in pictures
New Sudan Vision
(Juba, South Sudan NSV) – President Kiir’s oldest daughter, Adut, was handed over in marriage on Saturday, in a church ceremony attended by almost the entire cabinet for South Sudan. Hundreds of South Sudanese, government ministers and dignitaries


Pres. Kiir walks with Adut inside the Rejaf Cathederal church on Saturday, October 22, 2011. Photos by Mading Ngor/The New Sudan Vision. 


Nardes and Adut at the marriage ceremony…


Nardes and Adut display marriage certifate at the Rejaf Cathederal…


Salva Mathok, Deputy Minister of Interior, Pres. Salva Kiir, and first lady Ayen Mayardit at the church ceremony..


Kiir stands with Nardes and Adut, after the wedding ceremony…


Salva Mathok, Deputy Minister of Interior, Pres. Salva Kiir, and first lady Ayen Mayardit at the church ceremony..


Nardes and Adut at the church…


Adut and Nardes


A girl holds a flower at the wedding ceremony…


Rejaf Catheral receives guests at the church 




Angelina Teny and Vice President Machar at the wedding ceremony in Rejaf


Hon. Riiny Thiik (left) and Gier Chuang, Minister of Roads and Transport (Red tie) at the church 


Group of women dancers outside the Rejaf Saints Catheral…


Choir at the wedding ceremony…


Hon. Aldo Ajou and Molana Abel Alier (Centre) at the wedding ceremony…


Minister of Interior, RSS, Manani Magaya (Centre), and Hon. Awet Akot, Deputy Speaker of National Legislature.


A spectator at the church…


Nhial Deng, Minister of Foreign Affairs, RSS, and Jonglei Gov. Kuol Manyang Juuk at the church ceremony….


Dr. Cirino Hiteng (right) at the wedding ceremony…


Minister of Higher Education, Adwok Nyaba, and Michael Makuei, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs at the ceremony..


Hon. Bari Wanji, Acting Chairperson, Economic and Finance Committee, National Legislature…


Angelina Teny, wife of Vice President and First Lady Ayen Mayardit, shake hands at the State House on Saturday as President looks on…


Gov. Kuol Manyang, and Hilde Johnson, UN special representative for South Sudan at the wedding reception at state house…


Elijah Malok, Former Governor of the Bank of South Sudan, with his wife Asunta, at the wedding ceremony…

Dr. James Okuk Arrested: South Sudan opposition protests “targeted” arrest of its members
Sudan Tribune
By Ngor Arol Garang October 23, 2011 (JUBA) – A major South Sudanese opposition party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) on Sunday protested against the “targeted” arrest of its members. Onyoti Adigo, leader of the

SOUTH SUDAN: New nation’s PS a ‘shambles’

A campaign
to find around 65 per cent of South Sudan’s Public Servants believed to have falsified their educational qualifications and other credentials has begun.
According to the Deputy Minister for Information, Atem Yaak Atem Atem, it appeared that many Public Servants may have won their jobs through family connections, while others had presented forged documents claiming false educational credentials.
Mr Atem said as a result, the public sector in the newly-formed country was in a shambles.
“There are a lot of people with so-called degrees that haven’t even completed high school,” Mr Atem said.
“Some of us will go to extra lengths and send an e-mail to the institutions in question, and if the answer is no, the next thing is to prosecute that person, because this is fraud.”
South Sudan plans to spend about 42 per cent of its almost $2 billion Budget this year on salaries, while President Salva Kiir has vowed to fight corruption and increase transparency.
The Ministry of Labour and Public Service found 21 of its senior staff members held forged academic documents, Mr Atem said.
“I have a feeling that throughout the Departments they could be in the thousands,” he said.
“For this job I think I will need a bodyguard. Some people will be very angry if we take drastic measures.”
Government Ministries received a letter last week ordering them to begin the screening process.
The Government has announced monthly cash limits for spending Agencies and further steps, effective from next month, include controls over payments to vendors and the signing of Government contracts.

Church Faces Increasing Hostility in Sudan

Posted: October 24, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Socio-Cultural

Constructing worship buildings more difficult since secession of South Sudan.

By Compass Direct News

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Emboldened by government calls for a Sudan based on Islamic law since the secession of South Sudan, Muslims long opposed to a church near Khartoum have attacked Christians trying to finish constructing their building, sources said.

The Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) congregation in Omdurman West, across the Nile River from Khartoum, has continued to meet for Sunday worship in a building without a roof in spite of opposition from area Muslims and local authorities, the sources told Compass. Claiming that Christianity was no longer an accepted religion in the country, Muslims in the Hay al Sawra, Block 29 area of Omdurman West on Aug. 5 attacked SCOC members who were constructing the church building, the sources said.

“We do not want any presence of churches in our area,” shouted members of the mob as they threw stones at the Christians, the sources said.

Muslims in the north, where an estimated 1 million Christians still live following the secession of South Sudan on July 9, fear the potential influence of the church, they said.

“They want to reduce or restrict the number of churches, so that they can put more pressure on believers,” said a church leader on condition of anonymity.

The SCOC has been trying to erect a church building on the site since it obtained the land in 1997, but both government officials and area Muslim residents have used delay tactics to prevent it, according to a Christian who lives in the area. The SCOC in that area of Omdurman is still trying to get permission from the Islamic government in Khartoum to construct the new church building, Christian sources in Khartoum said.

Like us on Facebook

Muslims and local “popular committees” – responsible for issuing residence certificates necessary for obtaining citizenship or an ID card, with authority to strike down proposals for erecting church buildings – assert that no church is necessary because there are no Christians there. But there are many Christians living in the area, sources said.

The government-appointed members of the popular committees tend to consist of radical Muslims who monitor Christian activities in neighborhoods so they can report them to security authorities, Christian sources told Compass. Previously, area Christians were upset to learn that the popular committees had divided another piece of land they hoped to obtain into two lots – one designated for a mosque, and the other for a Muslim school, sources said.

“We have already raised our objection over the way we are being treated in regards to obtaining permission to build this church,” said a church leader who wished to remain unnamed.

The church had filed a complaint with the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, which last month informed the SCOC that officials will investigate the matter, though they gave no time frame.

Meantime, the congregation finds that rain or whirling dust makes worship difficult, members said.

“I think we have much experience in how difficult it is to obtain permission for new church buildings in this country,” said a Christian leader who requested anonymity.

All religious groups must obtain permits from the Ministry of Guidance and Social Endowments, the state ministry of construction and planning and the local planning office before constructing new houses of worship, according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report.

Earlier this month, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir again asserted that the government has decided that Sudan will have a strictly Islamic identity. Al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur, made the statement to leaders of his party in Khartoum on Oct. 12.

Last December, one month before South Sudan’s vote for independence, Al-Bashir declared that if the south seceded as expected, Sudan would amend its constitution to make sharia (Islamic law) the only source of law and Arabic the official language.

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

William testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives about his experiences living in a refugee camp and being resettled as a refugee. He advocated for the needs of refugees and made policy recommendations about how best to serve and protect refugees around the world.

TestimonyThonCholHumanRightsCommission100930.pdf TestimonyThonCholHumanRightsCommission100930.pdf
38K   View   Download

Read William’s testimony and visit our Facebook page to watch William speak about this testimony.

By PaanLuel Wel
Does Fedia Hamdi Deserve a Nobel Prize for bringing about the Arab Spring?
A villain? a hero? Isn’t it ironic that the Arab Spring is closely related to, but never entirely a product of, sexism? Would that young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, have set himself on fire if he were slapped by a policeman instead of a policewoman?
I mean, did he set himself alight because he was slapped or because he was a slapped by a woman?
Dare we credit sexism for the Arab Spring or don’t we even dare to look at that obvious angle? Where are the feminists?
I mean, there are two things that are crying out for our universal condemnation: (1) Arab Spring is sexism and should be condemn by all feminists for perpetuating the stereotype, right? (2) By exchanging one Israeli soldier for thousand plus Palestinians’ prisoners, Israel must be condemned for “excessive use” of prisoners swap, remember the international uproar over the Gaza War? Where are the international human right organizations that were vocal over the Israeli “excessive use” of force over Gaza war?

From the new Did a slap start a revolution? #cnn

And to the millions of young and old Arab citizens across the Arab world, what will they do with/to the old poor woman, Fedia Hamdi, without whose recklessness they won’t have been liberated from autocracy?
I can’t help comparing Fedia Hamdi to Judas Iscariot of Christianity: no Judas, no Christianity; no Fedia Hamdi, no Arab Spring. Yet, ironically, both are condemned to infamy!
Fedia Hamdi, besides or in addition to her alleged slapping, deserved a Nobel Prize for instigating the greatest democratization process the world have ever witnessed, not even President Bush wars achieved that feat!!
Join me in petitioning the Swidish for next year Nobel Peace Prize for Fedia Hamdi, the Aung San Suu Kyi PART TWO. We don’t wanna have this GREAT woman go the Judas Iscariot way: suicide!
Fedia Hamdi’s slap which sparked a revolution ‘didn’t happen’

Hamdi denies driving Mohamed Bouazizi to take his own life, as all charges of striking the Tunisian stallholder are dropped

Fedia Hamdi celebrates after being released from prison last Wednesday.

Fedia Hamdi, the Tunisian market inspector accused of hitting Mohamed Bouazizi, celebrates after being released from prison last Wednesday. Photograph: Andy Hall/AFP

It was the slap that started a revolution. When the Tunisian street trader Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, was slapped in the face by a female municipal inspector last December, he burned himself alive in protest and sparked a wave of anti-government riots that engulfed the Arab world.

From the new Did a slap start a revolution? #cnn or false? The woman at the centre of the controversy has now denied hitting Bouazizi and claims she was wrongly imprisoned for four months. Fedia Hamdi, 46, who has not spoken publicly about the incident until now, told the Observer that she had been used as a political pawn by the former Tunisian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. “I feel I was a scapegoat,” she said. “I feel there has been a grave injustice and it hurts me to think that no one wanted to listen to my story.”

After 111 days of incarceration, Hamdi was freed by a tribunal in her hometown of Sidi Bouzid last Tuesday after defence lawyers demolished the case against her. Hamdi was found innocent of all charges when it emerged in court that only a single person claimed to have seen the slap – a fellow street trader who bore a grudge against her – while four new witnesses testified that there had been no physical confrontation.

“I would never have hit him [Bouazizi],” Hamdi said, speaking from her parents’ home in Meknassy, approximately 50km from Sidi Bouzid where the alleged incident took place. “It was impossible because I am a woman, first of all, and I live in a traditionally Arab community which bans a woman from hitting a man. And, secondly, I was frightened … I was only doing my job.”

The tale of Bouazizi’s self-immolation rapidly became the stuff of legend in the early days of the jasmine revolution. It was reported in media outlets across the globe that Bouazizi, a fruit and vegetable seller, had set up his stall as usual on the morning of 17 December in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid.

At about 11.30am Hamdi, accompanied by another municipal official, approached the market trader to insist that the regulations did not allow him to sell his wares without a permit. It was reported at the time that Hamdi confiscated Bouazizi’s electronic scales and his cart when he refused to pay a bribe. When he became agitated, it was alleged that she slapped him across the face. Hamdi, who is unmarried and has no children, denies this.

What is indisputable is that when Bouazizi tried to retrieve his cart from the police station, he was turned away. He then asked to see the local governor, but was also refused entry. At about 1pm he set himself alight. He later died of his injuries in hospital.

Within hours of Bouazizi burning himself alive, a crowd of 4,000 people had gathered in Sidi Bouzid to protest against his public humiliation. For many, Bouazizi’s death became a potent symbol of an ordinary individual who struggled to make a living under President Ben Ali’s corrupt regime. It was the spark that ignited a series of revolutions across the Arab world – most notably in Egypt, Yemen and Libya.

But for Hamdi, the reality was rather different. “I was just doing my job,” she says now, sitting in a large front room surrounded by her seven siblings and elderly parents. “The only thing I was trying to do that day was to apply the law and the law doesn’t allow market traders to go in a public zone. When I asked him to leave, he refused and he grabbed hold of my hand, hurting my finger. He was angry with me, so I let it go, but as a penalty I confiscated some of his bananas and peppers and gave them to a charitable association… Afterwards, I went back to my work and then I went home at 1pm and I didn’t do anything else.”

According to Hamdi, Bouazizi was “hysterical” when she left him. “He was almost unaware of what he was doing.” One resident of Sidi Bouzid, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that Bouazizi poured petrol on himself “as a threat. He didn’t mean to kill himself”. Several of Hamdi’s colleagues, some of whom set up a Facebook group to campaign for her release, suggest Bouazizi set himself on fire by accident while lighting a cigarette.

Whatever the truth of the incident, in the days after Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the atmosphere in Sidi Bouzid was extremely unstable. President Ben Ali, wishing to avert any further protest, ordered Hamdi’s detention on 28 December. She was kept under house arrest for three days before being taken to a civil prison in the town of Gafsa, 50km away. Hamdi was put in a group cell with other prisoners.

As the revolution raged beyond her cell door and Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia to the jubilation of the Tunisian people, Hamdi refused to reveal her identity for a month for fear of reprisal.

“I was so scared,” says Hamdi, tears falling down her cheeks. “And it made me sick to my heart that everyone refused to listen … I felt I was facing so much injustice.”

Who does she blame? “The media – for me, that is the root of the problem. Not so much the Tunisian media, because they came under pressure from the government, but the reaction of the international media shocked me because they have a reputation for honesty.” Does she feel anger towards the former president for his actions? “Of course,” she says. “Like the rest of the Tunisian people.”

In prison, Hamdi went on hunger strike for 15 days until doctors intervened. She remains traumatised by her experience, her hands tremble and she walks with a stoop. She has not been able to sleep since her release and finds eating difficult.

“It’s true that I have suffered,” she says. “But my family and my colleagues suffered much more because they were rejected by the community. They tried to tell their story but no one would listen … In prison, I missed my family so much. When I saw them again after I was freed, I felt newborn. I feel so thankful.”

In spite of all that she has been through, Hamdi insists she welcomes the deposition of the former president and her part in his downfall. “I am happy about the revolution,” she says. “I am a religious woman. All that happened was so hard, but it was my destiny and I am proud of my destiny. It was given to me by God.” As for the Bouazizi family, who continue to revere their son as a martyr: “I do not want to talk about this family any more. I want to move on.”

Does she eventually want to return to work? “Yes, absolutely,” she replies. “I’m convinced that justice is important. We should all believe in the law.”

The full version of Elizabeth Day’s dispatch from Tunisia will appear in the Observer magazine in a forthcoming issue.

Comments were erroneously switched on for this article and have now been closed

Remembering Bishop Daniel Zindo (October 20, 2011)!

Posted: October 19, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Socio-Cultural

Today is another milestone in my life and the in life of my siblings. It’s the 13th Anniversary Day as we commemorate the death of our beloved father, The late Bishop Daniel Zindo (1942-1998), then Acting Archbishop of the Anglican/Episcopalian Church in Sudan.
It was on the morning of October 20, 1998 as he left Nairobi Kenya in his official car to drive to Kampala Uganda, that he met his tragic death along Waiyaki Way in Nairobi, outside the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK). The 3 other occupants with him in the car including the driver escaped unhurt while he died instantly.
On that fateful day in our pain and anguish as we mourned him and the subsequent days, we accepted in good faith that the Lord had relieved him of his duties on earth and promoted him to join the ranks of great people who are today resting in glory and enjoying life with God Almighty. On this day my siblings and I continue to thank God for Bishop Daniel Zindo’s life and we remember him before God on this 13th Anniversary of his death as a dedicated servant of God who served the Lord diligently to the end.  He kept the faith, fought the good fight and finished the race.
His death came just 11 months after our beloved mother Grace Zindo was shot dead in South Sudan On November 27, 1997 and together we celebrate their lives on this day. On this day, I want to thank our family friends around the world who supported us at the time and those who have supported me until today. I say “may God bless you all” and to the departed ones I say “may God continue to be kind to you and may he continue to grant you peace until we meet again”.
Thanks and Kind Regards
Manasseh Zindo
Sudan mourns a fearless Anglican Archbishop

By Manasseh Zindo

Sudan Tribune: September 19, 2009 — Sudan is mourning the death of her Third Anglican Archbishop who succumbed to his to illness on Friday September 18, 2009 in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Sadness greeted me this morning when I was woken by a phone call to be informed that the Most Revd Joseph Biringi Marona is dead. I immediately called the current Archbishop Daniel Deng who confirmed that Marona was no more. His body will be flown from Khartoum to Juba, the headquarter of Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) where he will be laid to rest alongside his predecessors.

I cannot account my emotion without remembering October 20, 1998 when my late father was taken from us in a cruel, road carnage. Retired Archbishop Marona, 68, and my later father Daniel Zindo were known as twin bishops when they were consecrated in 1984 by the first Archbishop of Sudan The Most Revd Elinana J Ngalamu. I remember the colourful ceremony very well in Yambio. They were first consecrated in Maridi Cathedral where Marona would later become the first Bishop. My father was then enthroned as the second bishop of Yambio replacing the late Bishop Yeremaya Datiro who died in 1983.

My siblings and I would from the 1984 onward acquaint ourselves with Marona and Mama Eunice his wife. We would welcome them to Yambio frequently and they would reciprocate in Maridi. The twin hypothesis of Marona and Daniel Zindo was that they were nearly age mate, born in 1941 and 1942 respectively of parents who did know each other. The two men at some stage attended missionary school in Yambio in the 1950’s but the Lord would bring them together as the youngest priests to be consecrated bishops at 42 (Zindo) and 43 (Marona).

Archbishop Marona was loved in Yambio as he was in his own Diocese and he knew almost every priest in Yambio by name. When the civil war broke out in Western Equatoria the twin bishops were all away in Khartoum where they were confined but they Lord would one year later after the liberation of Yambio reunite them with their families in exile as Maridi became a bloody town where thousands of people were killed as the well equipped government forces resisted incursion by the rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA).

Marona’s family had fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1990 while we went to Central Africa Republic (CAR). In 1993 Bishop Zindo returned from exile to work in the SPLA controlled area, his twin brother in the Lord followed him and back again they were in full control of their respective Dioceses. As it is commonly the case in leadership Marona and Zindo had to deal with bitter rivals from within their own clergy who felt they were short-changed when the two men were transparently elected bishops. Because of these enmities Zindo would later survive death attempts on his life including a well calculated car crash in the 1985 which he survived as his time was yet to come.

The two newly consecrated bishops were to encounter tougher times ahead when ECS was plunged into leadership crisis with Marona and Zindo standing by the newly and constitutionally elected Archbishop of ECS, His Grace Benjamin Wani Yugusuk who was recognised by the worldwide Anglican body as the primate of Sudan. The crisis emanated because the first Archbishop of Sudan His Grace Elinana Ngalamu did not accept his retirement and went on to consecrate rival bishops in each Diocese. It was difficult time for the ECS as I saw it.

Back to the twin bishops. In 1994 Zindo who was until then the Dean of ECS and Archbishop Yugusuk with Marona as the Secretary of the Episcopal Council managed to work out a modality that recognised the bishops consecrated unconstitutionally and ECS was once again reunited. In the same year, renowned Catholic bishop of Torit Paride Taban stepped down as chairman of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), and Zindo was elected the new chair. He stepped down after his three term in office expired to assume his new role as the Acting Archbishop of ECS following the retirement of Archbishop Benjamin Yugusuk.

The story of Zindo and Marona resemble that of American tennis stars and twin sisters Serena and Venus Williams who once in a while are called to face each other in their quest for supremacy in tennis. Zindo and Marona faced each other in 1984 as well when they were consecrated assistant bishops under Yambio Diocese where there was a vacant, and one of them had to become Diocesan bishop. In the contest Zindo was elevated the Diocesan Bishop and Marona was his assistant until Maridi became a full-fledged Diocese.

Following Zindo’s departure at the helm of NSCC in 1997, Marona replaced him as the chairman and also served his three term in office. When Zindo suddenly died in a car crash, Marona replaced him as Dean and acting Archbishop until his election as the third Archbishop of ECS in bitterly contested election as we saw it in Limuru Kenya in 2000. Marona emerged and defeated his closest challenger Bishop Michael Lugor of Rajaf Diocese.

I met Marona many times and remember him very fondly that I do not know which occasion to account for but the most exciting encounter for us was in 1999. I was in London and Archbishop Marona was in the UK, he was travelling from Salisbury Diocese to meet Archbishop George Carry of Canterbury at the Lambeth Palace, and there was no body to receive him on arrival. Canon Andrew Deuchar then Secretary for Anglican Affairs at the Lambeth Palace asked me if I could receive Marona at Waterloo Station and take him over to the Palace. I accepted and was driven to the nearby Waterloo station. Marona arrived, looked around and started walking towards the exit; I don’t know where he was going, probably to take a taxi to the Palace. I approached him and he was amazed to see me, we hugged each other (the Sudanese way) and I look him to the Lambeth Palace.

Although the inevitable was to occur because of his deteriorating health, I did not expect it so soon. I last saw him in Juba in 2005 in poor health and he told me that he would opt for early retirement which he eventually did, and for which I saluted him for the bold decision. In this part of the world of ours, leaders want to cling to power until death but that was not Marona.

When he became the Archbishop in 2000 and accepted to return to Khartoum, it was a bold move too because we feared for his life but he was a fearless man who believed in God. God loved him and has now relieved him from this troubled world. I pray for Mama Eunice and the many children he was fathering. It is my prayer that the Lord will continue to take care of them.

Now that he has been reunited with his twin brother in heaven, I want to pay countless tribute to their reminiscence and exemplary work as bishops. They fought good fight and finished the race, may God reward them for dedicated service as true soldiers of the ministry to which they were called by God.

Manasseh Zindo is a Sudanese Media Personality, currently studying for a Masters Degree in Peace Studies & International Relations in Nairobi Kenya, and son to the late Bishop Daniel Zindo. E-mail:


Plenary raises challenges of making moral choices
by Lisa Barrowclough

The voices of Anglicans speaking out of personal pain quickly brought the plenary on making moral decisions out of the realm of theory. Two presentations and a video offered stark stories
of very human struggles. The session, said plenary coordinator Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton (Canada), sought to “find a way forward for the leaders of the Church.”

Bishop Mano Rumalshah (Peshawar, Pakistan), the first presenter, spoke of deadly dangers that daily face Christians in regions where Islamic teaching is law. Bishop Rumalshah recalled the May 6 death of Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph. His last word’s were “… in protest
against [the blasphemy law] and other black laws, and in the name of my oppressed Christian people, secularism and democracy, I am taking my life.”

The death generated “acute public debate on the morality of his action, because in common language, what he did is called suicide,” Bishop Rumalshah said.”But is it possible to think of Bishop John laying down his life as an act in the same fashion as that of Jesus? Isn’t this also in keeping with the call, `take up your cross and follow me?”‘ Bishop Rumalshah told of a 15year#old Christian schoolgirl who was accused of insulting the holy prophet of Islam in
her classroom. More than 200 local Muslim clerics signed an oath to kill her.

“With the consent of her family and, perhaps, even her religious leaders, she converted to Islam to save her life,” he said. Two of his parishioners in a part of the diocese where Islamic law is fully enforced were offered a stark choice: to be converted to Islam and accepted as a lawful husband and wife, or to be tried under an adultery ordinance and be liable to capital punishment. They became Muslims.

“In both these cases, there is a deep sense of guilt and remorse, and even spiritual strain,” Bishop Rumalshah said. “In these situations of apparent apostasy, what needs to be our moral and pastoral responsibility?” Conversely, Christian converts are legally disinherited of all possessions and ostracised for the rest of their lives.There are rumours of a proposal to make both the baptiser and the baptised liable for prosecution under the draconian blasphemy law, which usually means death.

“Should we be encouraging public baptisms of those converting from Islam in such a climate? Or do we make `secret believers’–a choice I once ridiculed, but now I am struggling to accept,” he said. “As always, what we need are new signposts for our generation which are applicable in our respective contexts.”

Violence as a way of life
Bishop Daniel Zindo (Yambio, Sudan) brought many in the room to tears with his story of how murderous violence erupted in his home. “Here was our son#in#law who rebelled against us and killed my wife Grace Zindo, our son Yoane Khalifa, and then 30 minutes later killed himself too!” he said, as gasps echoed in the room. Minutes before the violence erupted the bishop had left to make a pastoral call.

Bishop Zindo placed his story in the context of the culture of violence created by 32 years of civil war, a culture in which a God of peace can quickly seem irrelevant. “Killing human beings . . . has become a game of interest only,” he said. Personal and social violence are profoundly related. Violence in a society,”because it rises in the human heart, so easily finds a way of becoming violence in our own homes.” He asked, “How does one raise children and grandchildren who have witnessed killing and suicide to believe in a God who seeks peace, and our Lord who is our peace? How does one proclaim the good news of God’s love to our own families—let alone to a society—who have experienced first hand a culture of violence?”

In the video, prepared by Trinity Parish, Wall Street (New York), actors related the stories of 10 unnamed people who have confronted difficult personal dilemmas.

“My ancestors lived here long before the English and French came to our shores,” began the story of a native Canadian. “We lost our land and rivers, some say we even lost our souls. “The missionaries said we must not follow our own spiritual traditions but must worship their God. `The white man brought the Bible, but we got the church.’ Our culture vanished, and we were left with nothing.The government has apologised and offered compensation, but for many of us the question remains, “Who am I?”

The narrator asked, “As bishops, can we stand alongside cultures within our culture?” A woman said, “My husband and I once served as missionaries in the Far East. Today we live with a baby girl we adopted from an orphanage in Beijing. “The orphanages in China are filled with hundreds of thousands of female children. When they become teenagers these girls are forced to live on their own as peasants or prostitutes. My mind is seared by the memory of our arrival at the orphanage, a group of girls aged 7 to 10, smiling, laughing, waving to us from a balcony. Hours later, departing with a six#month#old cradled in my arms, the same girls stood by …in silence.”

The narrator asked, “As bishops, are we able to provide leadership?” A gay man living openly with a partner sings in the choir of his parish church but does not feel welcome. He senses that some parishioners wish he would go away, “that a man who does not conceal his sexual preference, who might ask a blessing upon our union, the love we share, does not belong in their church.”

But a priest feels called to counsel gay men to resist their orientation. “`Do not lose heart,’ I counseled them. `Genuine intimacy between two men—without physical contact—is possible.Through prayer, you will find the courage and discipline to share your love, yet be celibate, faithful to one another and to the Church you love.”‘ The narrator asked, “As bishops, what message do we want to send to the gay community?” Other stories raised the issue of AIDS in the context of an African culture that calls for the widow of a man who died of AIDS to marry his brother, who also may be HIV positive, of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Between each of the sets of stories, the video asked, “Will the Church help show the way forward?”

More than a supermarket choice
In an address that prompted rousing applause and a standing ovation from participants, Bishop Rowan Williams (Monmouth, Wales) offered a concluding focus on how the Church could make moral decisions.

He reminded his colleagues that making decisions is not as simple as “being faced with a series of clear alternatives, as if we were standing in front of the supermarket shelf.” Decisions, instead, are “coloured” by the sort of decision#maker. “The choice is not made by a will operating in the abstract, but by someone who is used to thinking and imagining in a certain way.” He referred to the writing of Welsh philosopher Rush Rhees and British Catholic theologian and moralist Herbert McCabe and summarised their points by stating “[it is] not that ethics is a matter of the individual’s likes or dislikes… On the contrary, it is a difficult discovering of something about yourself, a discovering of what has already shaped the person you are and is moulding you in this or that direction.”

Back to front page of this issue

By Steve Paterno

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has finally announced its recipient for 2011 Achievement in African Leadership award, after no winner emerged for the last two consecutive years. The foundation was established in 2006, by a Sudanese native and telecommunication mogul Dr. Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim. The foundation is aimed to support good governance and to recognize as well as celebrate excellence in leadership in Africa.

The Achievement in African Leadership prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African head of State who has served their term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution, has left office in the last three years, and has demonstrated excellence in office. The prize consists of five million dollars, disbursed in a period of 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter. The foundation can also consider granting a further $200,000 per year, for 10 years, toward the cause espoused by the winner for the purpose of serving public interest.

Since its inception, the winners of the prize included Joaquim Alberto Chissano (2007), Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (2007) as an inaugural honorary recipient, Festus Gontebanye Mogae (2008), and Pedro Verona Pires (2011). Joaquim Alberto Chissano was democratically elected as President of Mozambique in 1994, in the country’s first multi-party elections. He was reelected for the second term in 1999, and then, he stepped down from presidency, refusing to seek reelection, even though the constitution did not restrict him from pursuing the third term. Chissano was instrumental for ending Mozambique’s 16 year-old civil war and he allowed for establishment of multipartism to flourish in the nation. He managed and oversaw the country’s post conflict reconstruction, which was characterized by great reforms in economic, health, education and empowerment of women.

Nelson Mandela was awarded the prize as an honorary laureate for his role model and for being one of the greatest statements of the time who will continue to inspire generations. Mandela endured personal sacrifice and dedicated his life for the struggle to end a racial apartheid regime of South Africa. In 1994, Mandela was elected President of South Africa, in what was the country’s first ever multi-racial elections. After forming a national unity government and serving only for one term, Mandela resigned, and never wished to seek a second term in office. Mandela’s chances to continue in presidency for life was unchallengeable.

Festus Gontebanye Mogae is the third President of Botswana. Mogae first became president in 1998. After his party, Botswana Democratic Party won the elections again in 2004, he went on to serve for the second term, ending his reign in 2008, in accordance with the country’s constitution. During Mogae’s tenure, Botswana experienced steady economic growth, better management of resources, and improved social services. His strict enforcement of anti-corruption measures, puts Botswana among the least corrupt countries in the continent.

Pedro Verona Pires won his first presidential seat in 2001, and then prevailed again in 2006 for his second term. Despite wide publicized speculations that Pires could amend the country’s constitution to allow him to run for the third term, he instead stepped down in the end of his second term, saying, “this is a simple matter of faithfulness to the documents that guide a state of law.” While in office, Pires instituted significant reforms that transformed Cape Verde into a model for democracy, stability, prosperity, good governance, and respect for human rights. Under Pires stewardship, Cape Verde has become only the second African country to graduate from the United Nations category of the Least Developed.

In spite of these winners, who all posses impeccable track records, the fact that the foundation was not able to find any African leader who meets the criteria for the award in year 2009 and 2010—demonstrates a disturbing trend of an Africa inhibiting the progress of practicing good and quality leadership. This means the Dark Continent is still long way to improve performance in excellence in leadership.

Even though the Mo Ibrahim Foundation initiative is a noble cause, intended to encourage good governance and excellence in leadership, the award has its shortcomings. For example, the whopping awarded monetary amount is misplaced, because it is in the presidency that African leaders earn most of their cash; not when they leave the office. Hence, these leaders cannot simply be enticed by cash in order to leave office, when they can just snatch more of such money on their own. In essence, the award is rewarding the rich of the rich in Africa. Normally, African leaders transfer power peacefully after negotiating and securing hefty package for themselves that will ensure their livelihood for eternity. Otherwise, these leaders cannot see any incentives in giving up power, which is actually generously fuels their wealth.

As much as it is important to recognize and reward excellent in leadership in Africa, more attention should focus on empowerment at the grassroots, which in turn can hold the leadership accountable. There are enormous need to support functions of institutions and sustainable self reliance programs to ensure human dignity and equality as well as elevate poverty and prevent diseases. By solely recognizing only the elites, the Mo Ibrahim Achievement in African Leadership prize will continue to reaffirm the “principle of the big man,” where rich people rewarding themselves with their wealth.

Collecting Feminine Items for Girls of Sudan

Posted: October 10, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Socio-Cultural

Oct 9 2011 11:55PM
KXMBTV Bismarck

Normally the phrase, “don’t get your panties in a bunch” means “calm down”.

But a group wants you to get riled up about getting LOTS of panties in a bunch.

This pile of donated underwear and feminine hygiene products will soon be shipped to South Sudan.

Deb Dawson with African Soul, American Heart has traveled to South Sudan four times.

She says young women there often drop out of school after hitting puberty because a lack of supplies.

(Deb Dawson/African Soul, American Heart Board President) “I mean you can imagine if you have your menstrual cycle and you have no way to manage that, you’re literally home-bound for a week a month, if you miss a week a month from school, you’re not going to stay in school, because it’s too difficult, you fall behind, kids make fun of you, and it’s embarrassment.”

Dawson first heard about orphan issues after meeting a “Lost Boy” of Sudan named Joseph who lived in Fargo.

Since then, their organization has collected thousands of pairs of underwear to donate to girls in two villages… and it has many other projects dedicated to educating orphans.

(Dawson) “They’ll literally circle me and Dance because they’re so happy that these things are coming to help girls in their village, they told me that when they were young, they didn’t know it was important to educate women, they didn’t have education themselves, a lot of men didn’t get education at that time either, but they say now they’ve seen educated women and what a difference it has made in their lives and they want this for their daughters or the orphans that they care for.”

She will deliver the collected “bunch” of supplies after Thanksgiving.

To learn more about the nonprofit organization…

Two in hospital after charity soccer brawl

Posted: October 10, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in Socio-Cultural

Francis Tapim

Updated October 10, 2011 07:35:46

A charity soccer tournament organised by the Queensland Police Service has ended with an all-in brawl in Brisbane.

The multicultural tournament at Greenslopes is Queensland’s own version of the World Cup with over 90 teams representing their countries.

Late yesterday Scotland was playing South Sudan in the grand final and the two teams clashed at the end of the game.

Officials say words were exchanged as the teams were leaving the field and a fight broke out involving players and spectators.

Two players from one team were taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for treatment but their injuries were not serious.

Police are investigating the incident and no charges have been laid.

The tournament is the largest multicultural football event in Australia.

By Rosie Goldsmith BBC News Independence Day celebrationsSouth Sudan’s leaders believe English will make them “different and modern”

The young nation of South Sudan has chosen English as its official language but after decades of civil war, the widespread learning of English presents a big challenge for a country brought up speaking a form of Arabic.

I knew there might be problems as soon as I arrived at Juba International airport – and was asked to fill in my own visa form, as the immigration officer could not write English.

The colourful banners and billboards hung out to celebrate South Sudan’s independence back in July, and still adorning the streets now, are all in English. As are the names of the new hotels, shops and restaurants.

After decades of Arabisation and Islamisation by the Khartoum government, the predominantly Christian and African south has opted for English as its official language.

‘One nation’

At the Ministry of Higher Education, Edward Mokole, told me: “English will make us different and modern. From now on all our laws, textbooks and official documents have to be written in that language. Schools, the police, retail and the media must all operate in English.”

Classroom in South SudanSouth Sudan’s education system is very short of resources and most people are illiterate

This was “a good decision for South Sudan”, he added forcefully, rather playing down the fact that there are very few fluent English speakers in the country.

As a devastated country of remote villages and mainly dirt roads, with no industry, banks or landlines, with erratic electricity and connectivity, where 85% of people are illiterate and the education system is shattered, South Sudan does not just have very little English, but very little written language at all.

I visited schools without textbooks.

The head of English at Juba University had no books in his office, let alone electricity or a computer.

I saw no bookshops.

For the new rulers, who fought with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, learning English is a new struggle.

“With English,” the news director of South Sudan Radio, Rehan Abdelnebi, told me haltingly, “we can become one nation. We can iron out our tribal differences and communicate with the rest of the world.”

‘Development tool’

But peace is still fragile.

The whole of Sudan is riddled with conflicts. About 150 different languages are spoken in the South and there are thousands of guns out there, as well as a quarter of a million former guerrillas being demobilised and disarmed.

There are soldiers everywhere in Juba.

But there are also traders from Uganda and Kenya, as well as about two million returnees from the north, refugees and thousands of Westerners seeking fortunes or bringing aid.

I met the new British Council director in his office – in the grounds of a notorious nightclub (the club had free office space, and in Juba you take what you get).

After 65 years operating in Sudan, the council appointed Tony Calderbank to oversee the spread of English in the new nation.

Wherever Tony went, I saw people approach him, desperate for courses, books, teachers and grants.

“English has become a tool for development,” Tony told me, “and, even if the British in Sudan are sometimes seen as colonial overlords, the English language is respected.”

Shakespeare’s influence

Brigadier-General Awur Malual had asked the British Council to teach his soldiers.

The general had grown up speaking his tribal tongue Bor and Juba Arabic, a colloquial form of Arabic, but can now speak remarkably good English.

When I asked him how he had learned it, he told me: “By picking up books in the bush when I was fighting. I read some things about that man Shakespeare.”

Map of South Sudan

“What about Dickens or Jane Austen?” I asked. He scratched his head and said: “I don’t know them.”

I promised to send the general some Dickens.

During my time in Juba, several people asked me for books – a dictionary of law and biographies of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama – black leaders who, for them, inspire hope.

Already, I have put copies of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline in the post.

Next year, as part of the 2012 Olympics arts programme, the South Sudanese Kwoto Theatre Company is to perform this tale of love, death and war in Juba Arabic at the Globe theatre in London.

Thirty-six other Shakespeare plays in 36 other languages will also be staged.

As we swatted flies down by the Nile, I asked Kwoto’s director, Derik Alfred why he was swimming against the tide – why not Shakespeare in English?

“We must still celebrate our own language,” he told me mischievously, “but first of all we have to translate Cymbeline from English into Juba Arabic!”

Posted By Josh Rogin 091022_meta_block.gifWednesday, October 5, 2011


The Cable reported yesterday that President Barack Obama waived penalties on several countries that recruit child soldiers for the second year in a row. Today, lawmakers moved to ensure that the administration won’t keep funding governments that use child soldiers next year.

The administration waived penalties mandated under the Child Soldiers Protection Act (CSPA) against Yemen, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The administration didn’t provide a justification for not penalizing South Sudan, because the 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which was released on June 27 and triggers the penalties, names “Sudan,” not “South Sudan,” as an abuser. South Sudan was declared independent on July 9, 12 days after the report came out.

“South Sudan wasn’t a country during the reporting period and isn’t subject to the CSPA; there are no penalties to waive under the law,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable.

That explanation struck several congressional aides and human rights activists we spoke with today as too clever by half. After all, the TIP report was referring to use of child soldiers by the government of “Southern Sudan” and the Southern People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which hasn’t stopped the practice and will receive $100 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money this year.

“They’re using a legal and technical loophole to continue to build up partnership with a government that needs to be reminded how serious this problem is,” said Sarah Margon, associate director for sustainable security and peace building at the Center for American Progress. “It’s exactly how not to establish the message that they need to set up their government with full respect for human rights and transparency.”

“At the time the TIP report came out, it was obvious South Sudan was going to be an independent country so any responsible person would have taken that into consideration,” one senior House aide told The Cable. “Apart from the law, the White House still had discretion to address the issue as a policy matter and it chose not to condition any of the aid on the SPLA completing its demobilization of child soldiers.”

The administration made the case that Chad has made sufficient progress on the child soldiers issue, and is no longer subject to penalties. “We’ve seen the government take concrete steps over the last year to implement policies and mechanisms to prohibit and prevent future government or government-supported use of child soldiers,” Vietor said.

“The U.N.’s Chad Country Task Force has reported no verified cases of child soldiers in 2011, and Chad has put in place safeguards to prevent further use or recruitment of child soldiers. The president’s reinstatement of assistance to Chad reflects this progress,” he explained.

But several activists noted that the United Nations and State Department both kept Chad on their list of countries violating international standards for child recruitment this year, and that international monitors’ limited access in Chad calls into question anybody’s ability to verify whether the government has stopped using child soldiers.

Several aides and activists were angry at the administration for failing to adequately consult or even inform them of the waivers before they were announced. Administration officials briefed congressional staffers and NGO leaders yesterday, and journalists not at all.

“It also says something about the State Department’s willingness to engage with civil society actors,” said Margon. “It’s a black mark on them in their ability to work with friends and allies on these issues. Why alienate the people who want to work with you on this stuff? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Congress has no intention of letting this scenario play out again next year. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, successfully added an amendment to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act reauthorization bill today that would force the administration to give Congress 15 days notice before issuing waivers for the child-soldier penalties.

The amendment would also expand the law to include peacekeeping funds given to violator countries (such as Somalia), and force the White House to show that countries are making progress toward eliminating the use of child soldiers before receiving a waiver. Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and John Boozman (R-AR) have already introduced a companion measure in the Senate.

Not all Capitol Hill staffers were completely unsympathetic to the administration’s arguments, however.

One Senate aide referred to the progress noted by the Obama administration in Chad and the partial cut of U.S. military assistance in the DRC as “welcome steps — steps that might not have occurred without the force of the Child Soldier Prevention Act,” noting that they “will require serious follow up attention.”

But overall, the administration’s roll out of the decision was panned by the NGO and human rights communities, which see the administration’s action as undermining the intent of the legislation.

“At a time when Congress is locked in one of the most difficult budget battles I’ve ever seen, it is shameful that a portion of federal funding continues to help support governments who are abusing children,” said Jesse Eaves, World Vision’s policy advisor for children in crisis. “This is a very weak decision by an administration paralyzed with inaction. And the worst part is that thousands of children around the world — not the politicians in the White House or the State Department — are the ones who will suffer.”

Ex-captive stresses plight of Sudan’s slaves

By Olivia Hampton (AFP) –

WASHINGTON — A former Sudanese slave blinded by a cruel master pleaded for help Tuesday in throwing the spotlight on the plight of others like him, and to find his missing mother.

Ker Aleu Deng was a victim of the 22-year civil war between Sudan’s northern and southern regions that ended in 2005 after claiming two million lives and displacing four million people.

Taken during the war to the Muslim north from his home in the Christian and animist south by government-backed Arab militias after his father died, Deng was forced to look after goats and pick hibiscus tea leaves for his owner, who he said beat him regularly. His mother was made into the master’s sex slave.

The former master, known as Zakaria Salih, “would take out all his anger on us,” Deng told reporters at the US Congress after being brought to the United States for restorative eyesight surgery.

“I was treated worse than the animals I slept with. Like them, I was property,” he later told lawmakers at a House Foreign Affairs Committee panel hearing on US policy toward Sudan.

“But the animals weren’t beaten every day. I was. Every single day, with a horsewhip… The animals were fed every day. But I wasn’t.”

Salih blinded Deng when he was about 12 years old by hanging the boy upside down from a tree, rubbing chili pepper in his eyes and lighting a fire nearby.

The doctors said it was the equivalent of throwing acid in his eyes, and his corneas were left white and opaque.

Deng, who was fed horse feed and tied to the goats he kept at night in order to keep him from fleeing, said his mother remains enslaved and he has no means to find out where she is.

Now about 18 years old, the soft-spoken boy pleaded for help to end such atrocities.

“I want to see my mother again, in freedom, along with all the others being held in slavery in Sudan,” he said, dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and black tie.

“You are powerful men and women. Please, find some way to help.”

A neighboring imam took Deng in after he was blinded and the boy worked there for about two or three years.

Christian Solidarity International, a Zurich-based charity, brought Deng to the United States in August to get surgery in hopes of restoring his eyesight. But one eye was found to be so badly damaged that there is no hope for repair.

After receiving a donor cornea at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Deng can now distinguish some shapes and movements though it is likely he will always have limited vision and need a white cane. He is also learning English, Braille and how to play the piano.

Representative Chris Smith, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, expressed outrage that slavery remained a reality in Sudan, which recently saw South Sudan split from the north to form the world’s newest nation.

“All of us need to do more in terms of exposing this horrific behavior on the part of enslavers and combat it. And frankly, we have done too little,” he said.

According to the State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons report, hundreds of children were abducted last year alone during conflicts and cattle raids between rival tribes, and some were later forced into animal herding or domestic servitude.

“Sudan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking,” it added.

The State Department says “thousands” of women and children from Deng’s Dinka tribe were abducted and enslaved like him by members of rival tribes during the civil war.

Freed Teenage Slave Testifies before Congress

WASHINGTON and AWEIL, South Sudan, Oct. 4, 2011 /NEWS.GNOM.ES/ — Ker Aleu Deng, a blind former slave liberated by Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and its partners, testified today before Congress on the persistence of slavery in Sudan.

Addressing the members of the House Subcommittee for Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, Ker said, “From a time I can’t remember until very recently, I slept with cattle and goats. … Like them, I was property.  But the animals weren’t beaten every day. I was.” Ker was frequently tortured and eventually blinded by his master.  Ker, now a teenager, was released from slavery last year, but his mother, a victim of extreme violence, remained behind.

Ker begged the American people and government to find a way to free his mother and the other Southern Sudanese who remain in captivity in the north.  ”You are powerful men and women,” he said. “Please, find some way to help.”

In addition to Ker’s testimony, the subcommittee was presented with a video recording of the late Dr. John Garang, who subsequently became First Vice President of Sudan, and president of the autonomous region of South Sudan, calling for an international campaign and a domestic Sudanese conference for the eradication of slavery in Sudan.

Testimony was also presented by Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News, who has participated in the documentation of freed Sudanese slaves, and who has enabled Ker to have eye surgery in the United States.  She stated, “Every time I look into young Ker’s damaged, unresponsive eyes, I sense the unspeakable suffering endured by him, and his mother, and countless thousands of others still being held.”

According to a leading member of the Sudanese Government’s now-defunct Committee for the Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children, James Agueir Alic, approximately 35,000 Southern Sudanese remain enslaved in the North.

Last week, 412 men, women and children were liberated from slavery in north Sudan, and repatriated to their homeland, South Sudan.  CSI, which facilitated their liberation, was present to document their experiences, and provide them with food and other supplies.

The liberated slaves were either captured by Sudanese government militias, or were the offspring of captured female slaves.  The overwhelming majority of them were subjected to horrific abuses, including regular beatings, rape, genital mutilation, death threats, forced labor, racial insults and forced conversion to Islam.

Subcommittee Chairman Congressman Chris Smith called on the U.S. government to vigorously combat slavery in Sudan – an internationally recognized crime against humanity.  He also declared, “Christian Solidarity International’s lifesaving work in slave redemption often goes unrecognized.  I would like to publicly thank CSI for their work.”

The CEO of CSI-USA, Dr. John Eibner, calls on the U.S. government to make the eradication of slavery in Sudan a policy priority.  He furthermore warns that, “Slavery in Sudan is a symptom of an underlying racism and religious bigotry that, if not addressed, could lead to an unraveling of North-South peace and bring yet more violence and death to that troubled region.”

CONTACT: Joel Veldkamp, 515-421-7258,

SOURCE Christian Solidarity International (CSI)

Freed Sudanese Slave Testifies to US Congressional Panel

Cindy Saine | Capitol Hill

US Rep. Christopher Smith (l) greets Ker Deng, a young man who in recent years was freed from slavery in Sudan during which he was blinded, October 4, 2011

Photo: AFP
US Rep. Christopher Smith (l) greets Ker Deng, a young man who in recent years was freed from slavery in Sudan during which he was blinded, October 4, 2011

A U.S. congressional panel is highlighting the plight of an untold number of Southern Sudanese people still being held as slaves in northern Sudan after being kidnapped in their southern villages by Arab militiamen.  18-year-old Ker Deng, who was blinded by his slavemaster while in bondage in Sudan, is now free and told his powerful story on Capitol Hill.
Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey introduced a very special guest at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

“Ker Deng has suffered unspeakable treatment at the hands of people from the Republic of Sudan who kidnapped him and his mother and held them in slavery until very recently,” said Smith.

Ker Deng shared his story with reporters and then later at a House hearing on the victims of slavery in Sudan.

He said that when he was a toddler, Arab raiders from the north came and invaded his village, burning their huts,  killing the men and tieing the women and children to camels and dragging them to a life of slavery in the north.  His slave master was named Zacharia.  Ker’s mother was forced to be a concubine and to work in the garden, and Ker was forced to gather red hibiscus leaves for tea and to tend to the goats.  Ker spoke with the help of an interpreter.

“So at night, Zacharia would tie me to the goat so that I would not leave the room where the goats are,” said Ker Deng.

Ker said he was treated worse than the animals he tended.  He was beaten every single day, and was fed grain just like the horses. But he said the worst thing that his slave master did was, in a fit of rage, he tied Ker upside down to a  tree and rubbed hot chili peppers in his eyes, blinding him.  After that, he was no use to Zacharias any more, and a neighbor took him in, before he was recently brought to the United States.  Ker said his mother is still enslaved, like many others.

“And my mother is still in that horrible situation,” he said. “I really have no clue where she is right now.”

Several groups and individuals are now helping Ker.  Dr. Julia Haller of the Wills Eye Center in Philadelphia is one of the surgeons who operated on him to try to help restore at least some of the vision in his right eye – the left eye has been permanently damaged.

“Virtually every part of the eye was impacted by his injuries,” said Dr. Haller. “So all of the different tissues that make up the complicated organ that gives us our sight were involved.”

It will take several months to know how much vision Ker will regain.  The organization LIghthouse International is working with Ker to teach him to perform ordinary daily tasks in a city, and to teach him English.  Mark Ackerman, President and CEO of LIghthouse International says Ker also has other talents.

“And Ker, as it turns out, has a natural music ability,” said Ackerman. “He is taking piano lessons, drum lessons, a number of other things –  you can see him smiling, this is what he enjoys the most!”

The United Nations estimated in 2000 that there were as many as 15,000 southern Sudanese held in bondage in northern Sudan after being abducted in raids on southern villages.  No one is sure how many southern Sudanese are still being held, but more than 100,000 have been liberated by groups such as Christian Solidarity International.

Congressman Smith called on the U.S. government and other countries to speak out so that the plight of those still being held as slaves in northern Sudan is not forgotten.  And Ker Deng asked members of Congress to help his mother and all of the others still in bondage, saying “you are powerful men and women, please find a way to help.”

Dr. Julia Haller speaks to reporters as Ker Deng listens during a press conference on Capitol Hill (© 2009 AFP)
By: Olivia Hampton
04/10/2011 21:03 GMT
Ex-captive stresses plight of Sudan’s slaves
A former Sudanese slave blinded by a cruel master pleaded for help Tuesday in throwing the…

A former Sudanese slave blinded by a cruel master pleaded for help Tuesday in throwing the spotlight on the plight of others like him, and to find his missing mother.

Ker Aleu Deng was a victim of the 22-year civil war between Sudan’s northern and southern regions that ended in 2005 after claiming two million lives and displacing four million people.

Taken during the war to the Muslim north from his home in the Christian and animist south by government-backed Arab militias after his father died, Deng was forced to look after goats and pick hibiscus tea leaves for his owner, who he said beat him regularly. His mother was made into the master’s sex slave.

The former master, known as Zakaria Salih, “would take out all his anger on us,” Deng told reporters at the US Congress after being brought to the United States for restorative eyesight surgery.

“I was treated worse than the animals I slept with. Like them, I was property,” he later told lawmakers at a House Foreign Affairs Committee panel hearing on US policy toward Sudan.

“But the animals weren’t beaten every day. I was. Every single day, with a horsewhip… The animals were fed every day. But I wasn’t.”

Salih blinded Deng when he was about 12 years old by hanging the boy upside down from a tree, rubbing chili pepper in his eyes and lighting a fire nearby.

The doctors said it was the equivalent of throwing acid in his eyes, and his corneas were left white and opaque.

Deng, who was fed horse feed and tied to the goats he kept at night in order to keep him from fleeing, said his mother remains enslaved and he has no means to find out where she is.

Now about 18 years old, the soft-spoken boy pleaded for help to end such atrocities.

“I want to see my mother again, in freedom, along with all the others being held in slavery in Sudan,” he said, dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and black tie.

“You are powerful men and women. Please, find some way to help.”

A neighboring imam took Deng in after he was blinded and the boy worked there for about two or three years.

Christian Solidarity International, a Zurich-based charity, brought Deng to the United States in August to get surgery in hopes of restoring his eyesight. But one eye was found to be so badly damaged that there is no hope for repair.

After receiving a donor cornea at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Deng can now distinguish some shapes and movements though it is likely he will always have limited vision and need a white cane. He is also learning English, Braille and how to play the piano.

Representative Chris Smith, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, expressed outrage that slavery remained a reality in Sudan, which recently saw South Sudan split from the north to form the world’s newest nation.

“All of us need to do more in terms of exposing this horrific behavior on the part of enslavers and combat it. And frankly, we have done too little,” he said.

According to the State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons report, hundreds of children were abducted last year alone during conflicts and cattle raids between rival tribes, and some were later forced into animal herding or domestic servitude.

“Sudan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking,” it added.

The State Department says “thousands” of women and children from Deng’s Dinka tribe were abducted and enslaved like him by members of rival tribes during the civil war.

© 2011 AFP