Blog Archives

Assist the Old, Develop the New & Plan for the Future: Week of 8/15 News Roundup

This week started and  ended with events aiding those in need throughout the world leading right to today’s World Humanitarian Day 2011.Some great achievements were made throughout the week.

 The week started with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights (OCHA)‘s efforts in Pakistan after monsoon floods effected the living situation of thousands of people. This organization also helped in the return this week of thousands of refugees to Southern Sudan after its strive for resources followings its independence. However, support is still needed in the world as those in regions within Darfur are still in need. Other parts of the continent still suffering from the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Many UN associated organizations came together this week during a meeting to organize an approach to help in any way they can.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a point about the progress of the UN mentioning that there are a lot of situations and crisis in need of the UN’s assistance and resources. As 2015 gets closer and closer, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explains the importance of working now for the future. He mentions that besides looking towards the Millennium Goals for 2015, the UN must also recognize goals for after 2015.  With focus on future generations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Citizen Ambassador’s Contest continues as it looks for future global leaders to pitch their ideas for the progress of the UN’s future. The future brings new ideas and changes, as well as preserving the past which includes this week’s decision to help specifically endangered species. The UN’s focus this week, as always, remains to help now for the future.

We look forward to what the UN’s progress next week will bring to the world!

-Cara

From Peace-Building to Nation-Building: Southern Sudan

Today, July 9th, is a day of celebration and promise as Southern Sudan declares its independence and becomes a nation with the guidance of the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UN organizations, including the United Nations Mission in Sudan.

The UN’s Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon looks at Southern Sudan’s newfound independence as the start of a challenge as they find their place and develop. In support of this burgeoning independence, yesterday the UN announced its new mission, the UNMISS UN Mission in Southern Sudan that will specifically focus on the development of the new country.  The Security Council voted unanimously to set up a new United Nations mission to help Africa’s newest nation consolidate peace and lay the foundation for longer-term state-building, conflict prevention and economic development.

While the history of Sudan is quite complicated, a brief overview is as follows: the history of Southern Sudan goes back all the way to the French and English influence on the continent of Africa in the 1800s leading to the English control of both the Northern and Southern parts of Sudan until 1956. The actions of Sudan’s People Liberation Movement in the 1980’s started the rebellion in response to perceived discrimination of Southern Sudan, along with division of religious beliefs in the region l, that led to the wars between the North and South. A peace agreement (CPA) was formed in 2002 with the assistance of the US that brought about the end of the civil war and a new government, but also created challenges in developing the area. Once the civil war ended in 2002, it was decided that a declaration would be formed between the government and Sudan’s People Liberation Movement by the end of 2004, with the support of the UNSC and CPA. These actions led to the support of the elections this past year that would allow Southern Sudan to gain its independence from the North.

Here, in the Boston area there are some interesting initiatives in support of the Southern Sudanese people. A Sudanese Education Fund has been started to support the educational development of the people that immigrate to the United States from Southern Sudan. Many Southern Sudanese people made efforts to be a part of the decision towards independence as they voted in the Boston area for Southern Sudan’s independence during the referendum in January of this year. There were a variety of different organizations that supported the Southern Sudanese voters, but specifically in this area was the South Sudanese Community Center in Arlington that worked to support the rights and independence of Southern Sudan.

You can get involved, too! Encourage the US Senate to support the development of Southern Sudan.  You can connect with all of the celebrations in real time online here.  And stay tuned as this country continues to develop and find it’s own identity.

-Cara

Celebrating the “Tribe of Women” in Our Lives

Wherever you are from, whatever nation or clan you belong to, if you a woman, you are part of a tribe called “women”.  This thought was the theme of our annual International Women’s Day celebration and film screening, held on Monday, March 14.

We had the privilege of showing the first screening of A Tribe of Women, which is a documentary for Sudanese women’s courageous quest to stop war in Sudan. This film is based on the concept that women understand other women regardless of their ethnicity and tribe, and together can make a real difference in the journey towards peace. The women featured in the film are from different areas in Sudan and come from very different backgrounds.  However, al of the women experienced tragedy, fear, and loss throughout the on-going civil wars, and they also share a sense of hope and healing for the future.

Thato Mwosa, a female filmmaker, who is from Botswana, followed My Sister’s Keeper, an organization dedicated to women peace-builders in Sudan, as they launched their Sisterhood for Peace Initiative.  Through the camera, we hear the voices of Sudanese women and see their shared experiences lifted up.  Their collected voices empowered them to take action to emphasize the importance of ending war in Sudan. Their work has not been easy: ministers at Doha Rounds in Qatar refused to meet with them, but the women showed up anyway. They set up a table in the lobby of the hotel where the ministers were staying and demanded that they held a meeting to listen to what the women had to say.  Through Sisterhood for Peace, the women are uniting to bring about real change and real peace.

After the screening, Thato Mwosa, the film maker, Sarah Rial, one of the featured women in the film and the Program Director of My Sister’s Keeper, Gloria E. White-Hammond, executive director of My Sister’s Keeper, and Liz Walker, the film’s producer answered the audience’s questions and talked about their thoughts, process of the action, the film and their wish.

While the first draft of the film is complete, the work of the women (and the film!) is not over!  They are continuing their work but progress is slow. This story is not over, so they need support to be able to make aware of the war and women’s experiences in Sudan.  To learn how you can support the film and My Sister’s Keeper’s work, go here.

Peace comes only when we join together to work for a better world, and there is a special role for women at the table, which we were really able to celebrate and lift up as we honored International Women’s Day! Celebrate the sheroes in your life all year round!

– Kyoko
PS.  See more photos from our International Women’s Day film screening!

The UN’s Role in the Sudan Referendum

This is a historic week in the Sudan, from January 9th- January 15th, two referenda are taking place: one where the people of Southern Sudan will either vote for unity or secession, and another in which the people of the Abyei Area, which straddles north and south boundaries, will vote to remain in the north or become part of the south.

The UN has played a vital role in aiding the preparation of the referenda. The UN Security Council established the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The UN has also assisted local authorities, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), in conducting the vote, by providing logistical support and technical advice, and administering a UN fund key donors have provided. UN peacekeepers, volunteers, and staff have played a vital role in delivering ballots to the voters that the SSRC has registered within the region in addition to the nations where many Sudanese have settled.

Massive efforts have been made in the last few weeks to ensure that every last voter in the more than four-million-strong electorate will have a ballot, no matter how remote and inaccessible the location. UNMIS used helicopters to distribute ballot papers and voting materials to voting centers in rural areas of the Sudan that are inaccessible by roads. To date, UNMIS has delivered materials for over four million voters in the region.

Ballots were designed to include the 85% of illiterate southerners in the vote.  The ballots contain a picture of two clasped hands stands for unity with the north, and a single raised hand means independence.

Beyond assisting in the distribution and design of voting materials UN Police have trained 17,600 police officers in southern Sudan and 4,500 in the north to secure the polls.  A UN Panel has also been tasked to monitor the referendum with a three member team that will travel throughout the country throughout the duration of the voting period.

You can read more about the UN’s role in the referendum here! And keep track of how the voting goes – the world is watching and hoping for peace in Sudan.

-Alex.