SUDAN WATCH: IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM DARFUR IDPs: "Please press the movements for peace" — a direct call for rebel leaders to stop fighting and negotiate for peace

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM DARFUR IDPs: "Please press the movements for peace" — a direct call for rebel leaders to stop fighting and negotiate for peace

Extract from a recent email (copy here below) by Save Darfur Coalition:
In each camp, we asked IDPs what message we could bring back to activists in America. Consistently, we were thanked for the work of our movement to bring media attention and put pressure on world leaders to act to resolve the crisis and asked to keep fighting for justice. On more than one occasion, we were asked to "please press the movements for peace" — a direct call for rebel leaders to stop fighting and negotiate for peace.

One camp leader summed up the message clearly: "keep on working to raise your voice for all IDPs." I, for one, am motivated now more than ever to keep raising my voice on behalf of the millions in Darfur who want justice, peace, and security.
Copy of email from Save Darfur Coalition
Date: 02 March 2010
Subject: "I lost my family, I lost my country, I may lose my life."
Dear friend,

Just hours have slipped past since I returned home from Sudan — and the thoughts, fears, frustrations, and hopes of Darfuris and other Sudanese swirl together in my mind.

Traveling to Khartoum, Darfur, and Juba allowed me and my colleagues Jerry Fowler and Sean Brooks to see Sudan for ourselves, to observe what it is like in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, and collect the stories of real people and what they are experiencing day to day to improve our advocacy on behalf of the people of Sudan.

Common themes of security, aid, and political freedom emerged from our travels in Darfur. We visited 6 different IDP camps, meeting with camp leaders and IDPs.

First and foremost, IDPs named security as their number one concern. Many complained of being subject to violence when leaving camps — not just women risking rape but both men and women being attacked when they go to the market or work in the cities. We often heard descriptions of the most recent attacks and that this violence was on the rise, not decline.

Despite Sudanese government claims that IDPs were returning to their villages in large numbers, we found little evidence of this. While there may be some returns and some seasonal migration to farm, IDPs said the main reason they cannot return home is because of a lack of security, and in some cases because other people were occupying the land they once lived on. One leader said, "When we can travel for two days without being attacked, we will go with no one telling us."

The source of the ongoing threat of violence is unclear. IDPs typically complained about Janjaweed while the government blamed rebel factions and general banditry. We experienced a heavy armed presence in Darfur — from checkpoints and guards at buildings to "technicals," which are pickup trucks with a heavy machine gun and a few uniformed men on back, deployed regularly in strategic locations along main routes. As we approached one IDP camp, we saw a technical speed off through the middle of the camp at a high rate of speed. Despite this heavy presence, reports of violent attacks were prolific, including carjackings of multiple UN staff we met with.

In order not to endanger ongoing operations in light of the March 4th, 2009 expulsions we did not meet with any humanitarian organizations in Darfur. It is unfortunate we could not benefit from their collective experience, but in our role as advocates we were able to personally witness a number of continuing humanitarian challenges which need to be addressed.

While distribution of food aid has been picked up by the World Food Programme and some new partners, provision of adequate water supplies appeared to be more problematic, exacerbated by poor rains last year. At one camp, water was shut down at noon, and hand pumps were broken. In multiple camps we visited, people lined up for water, with rows and rows of empty jugs waiting to be filled. We saw unsanitary conditions around some pumps where spilled water runs off and mixes with animal waste — and children run around in bare feet.

Health services also seem to have suffered following the expulsions last year. Medical staff said they typically treat cases of chest and eye infections, malaria and diarrhea. A shortage of medicine, including cough syrup and antibiotics, and lack of access to laboratories were cited as problems. Also, many of the programs previously in place to prevent gender-based violence and treat rape survivors have not been replaced.

We asked IDPs what they thought about the upcoming elections. The overwhelming majority of IDPs said they did not register and therefore will be disenfranchised in the election. Some said they didn't bother because "we don't have real representatives to vote for," while others feel that free political conditions do not exist. The ongoing state of emergency and level of violence leave doubts about a safe environment for candidates and voters in Darfur. When asked whether he feared for his life, one tribal leader told us, "I lost my family, I lost my country, I may lose my life." But he was resolved to carry on advocating for a just and lasting peace.

One bright spot is the desire for peace. A real movement for peace exists across the camps we visited. IDPs we talked to generally want to participate in the peace process but feel they are not being included. One camp leader told us, "IDPs have ideas to give."

In each camp, we asked IDPs what message we could bring back to activists in America. Consistently, we were thanked for the work of our movement to bring media attention and put pressure on world leaders to act to resolve the crisis and asked to keep fighting for justice. On more than one occasion, we were asked to "please press the movements for peace" — a direct call for rebel leaders to stop fighting and negotiate for peace.

One camp leader summed up the message clearly: "keep on working to raise your voice for all IDPs." I, for one, am motivated now more than ever to keep raising my voice on behalf of the millions in Darfur who want justice, peace, and security.

Jerry Fowler and I will be hosting a special live webcast on Thursday at 2:00 PM to share more about our trip to Darfur and Sudan. Please take a second to register for the webcast or submit a question you would like us to answer on Thursday.

I hope you will continue to stand with me in support of the people of Sudan.

Sincerely,

Mark Lotwis
Save Darfur Coalition
Related reports

March 16, 2010 commentary by Julie Flint, The Daily Star
Back to bloody square-one in Darfur - excerpt:
In 2002, when Darfur was as familiar to most people as Outer Mongolia, Sudanese regular forces and aircraft as well as pro-government militias attacked Jebel Marra, the mountainous center of Darfur where rebels were organizing an insurgency. I learned about it when Abdul Wahid Mohammad al-Nur, the chairman of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), called me by satellite telephone to invite me to witness “the genocide being committed against my people.” ...

The Abdul Wahid-led SLA, which refuses to join the peace talks in Doha, replayed the start of the insurgency in January by attacking the town of Golo, the insurgents’ first target seven years ago. ...

The people of Jebel Marra are between a rock and a hard place – the rock of Abdul Wahid’s insistence that security be restored before he negotiates; and the hard place of Khartoum’s response. Khartoum made clear that it intended to resolve the Darfur situation by the elections in April. From the comfort of Paris, Abdul Wahid ignored those signals. ...
March 15, 2010 commentary by C.R., Save Darfur Coalition's Blog for Darfur: Untouchable Crisis? A Call to Action - excerpt:
As Save Darfur – a unique community of activists and rights organizations – we have been called to action. The international community and the Save Darfur movement worked hard to see the deployment of UNAMID. Now – amid the worst fighting in the 27 months since its deployment and as crucial national elections approach – this voice is as essential as it ever was. Likewise, activists and NGOs from around the world fought tirelessly to ensure UNAMID was provided with essential equipment like tactical helicopters capable of rapid intervention. Now that these gunships have arrived, it is our responsibility to ensure they are used to enhance UNAMID’s peacekeeping presence and enforce its mandate to protect civilians.

The global community needs to express its concern, mobilize support for Darfuri civilians caught in these clashes, and remind international policymakers why they should care about what’s going on in Jebel Marra. It is our mandate both to act and to demand action – and the time to do so is now.
March 16, 2010 news round-up at Sudan Watch: SLM'S Abdel Wahid Al Nur in France ordered attack on Sudanese army in the government-held Golo district in the Jebel Marra mountains - 5 news reports chronicled on 15 January 2010.

March 14, 2010 Sudan Watch: SLM chief Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Nur enjoys life in Paris while Darfuris are cared for by the world's taxpayers - SLM chief Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Nur can't get out of a hole he's dug himself into. Surely, the longer he enjoys life in the hotels of Paris, the longer he wants IDPs to stay in camps paid for by the world's taxpayers.

March 13, 2010 news round-up at Sudan Watch: SLM-Nur in Jebel Marra, Darfur rented around 500 horses from the Arab tribes and entered some SLM areas? - This is Part 1 of a series. More to come, later.

February 19, 2010 Sudan Watch: On Mon Feb 15: Jebel Marra, W. Darfur, W. Sudan: SLM-AWNur clashes with gov't forces in Kidinir and Laba or internal wrangling? - On Monday, 15 February 2010, the advisor to the secretary of information in the SLM faction, Musa Ahmed Mohammed, told Sudan Radio Service (SRS) that there have been clashes between the movement and government forces in Kidinir and Laba. However, another SLM field commander in the Western Jebel Marra section of the Abdelwahid-controlled area, Mohammed Sharaf, denied that clashes with the government occurred, saying that there was internal wrangling within the movement.

April 12, 2009 report from Jebel Marra, Sudan by Edmund Sanders, LA Times "The rebels on the mountain"- SLA's Jebel Marra, the Switzerland of Sudan - In a guerrilla-held area lush with pastures, streams and groves, villagers go about self-sufficient lives very different from those of the displaced people huddled in dry, dusty camps below.

Postscript from Sudan Watch Ed: Here's hoping that Julie Flint, Save Darfur Coalition et al can press rebel leaders to stop fighting and negotiate for peace.

Labels: , , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

Click HERE to scroll up ......Click HERE to scroll down