Many Challenges Face Sudan As Referendum Nears


Photp: AFP

THIS JANUARY, SOUTHERN SUDAN WILL VOTE in a referendum to determine whether the region remains part of the country or becomes a new, independent nation. The referendum was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) agreed to after twenty years of civil war, which ended in 2005.

Now, word comes that Sudan is delaying voter registration just as the international diplomacy machine, led by the U.N., prepares to visit Sudan next week. The countdown to the referendum is about 100 days.

Meanwhile a host of interrelated problems loom. Southern Sudanese living in the North worry about forced expulsions and fears of another war. And there is also the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

The Sudanese government is likely to take advantage of the international community’s preoccupation with the upcoming referendum and shift attention away from Darfur, said Laura Jones and Omer Ismail of Enough Project. Reporting for The Christian Science Monitor, Jones asserted that the situation will worsen “if the international community doesn’t stop addressing one challenge in Sudan at the expense of the other.”

During Sudan’s deadly civil war, in which 2 million were killed and 4 million displaced, Darfur dominated headlines. As is usually the case with high-profile crises, celebrities got involved, organizing nonprofits and becoming outspoken advocates to bring pressure for a solution.

Today that crisis shows no signs of improving. According to Human Rights Watch, fighting between rebel groups and the government has again increased. Sanctions could be ahead if humanitarian access and improved security are not part of the new Sudan.

News Sources

To follow local news about the upcoming referendum, The Sudan Tribune is an independent site based in France with good coverage of all sides of the story.

Sudan.Net provides coverage from English and Arabic language sources.

Organizations and Campaigns

The Enough Project works to prevent genocide with a focus on Africa. They recently published a new report on Sudan.

Sudan365 is a global campaign focussed on the referendum and wants to ensure that human rights are protected going forward. Their current media campaign is the “Beat for Peace”:

Top Tweets for Activists (Week Ending Aug. 20)

Welcome to Top Tweets for Activists: a selection of the week’s best tweets, blog posts, media, and news stories.

If you’d like to suggest a topic or news story, please leave a link in the Comments.


From June 7 to 9th 2010 young people gathered in Washington D.C. for the Women Deliver Conference. Amnesty International Mexico asked young men and women about their main concerns on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the framework of the National Network to Stop VIolence Against Women and its Demand Dignity Campaign. From @WomenDeliver:


Indigenous Rights/Borneo: Fight against Kaiduan Dam, Sabah @j_rubis

Indigenous Rights/Rapa Nui/Chile: Indigenous activists occupy govt property in Easter Island @Amnesty


What are the root causes of poverty? @FuturityNews via @PamFR

Why do some people think that poverty is easy to fix? @damselfish

Poverty Group Honest About Its Work; How Rare Is That? @freefromhunger


France Racism and Politics: Immigration & Citizenship @globalvoices

Pakistan If all you know about #Pakistan is what you see in the media, please give this a read @jterziett

Food Insecurity Food supplies most at risk in Afghanistan, Africa @alertnet

Sudan Avoiding the Train Wreck in Sudan: U.S. Leverage for Peace. New @EnoughProject report via @jonhutson

Social Documentary Photography: 3 Sites Bringing Awareness and Change

Social documentary photography, unlike news photography, strives to bring attention to social causes. The work of these photographers might anger, shock, or inspire action—they are voices speaking through images.

Here are 3 sites where you can see the work of photographers practicing activism through photography:


© Marielle van Uitert/ is a member organization for photographers, NGOs, students, photo editors, and the general public. The site currently features over 200 exhibits, and you can view photos by country or photographer. The works featured are as diverse as the Tea Party in America to urban horses.


The PhotoPhilanthropy‘s tagline is “we champion social change, one photo at a time.” In addition to galleries, the organization hosts programs and provides grants to photographers and nonprofits.

Collective Lens

Collective Lens is a site for individuals and nonprofits to upload their photos and promote a cause or bring awareness to an issue. The site is also developing a gallery of student work and is reaching out to classrooms to promote photojournalism and social change.



Srebrenica: Why All Victims of Genocide Must Not Be Forgotten

A MEMORIAL OF 16,677 SHOES, each pair representing the 8,372 victims of the Srebrenica massacre, were placed in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin today. The “Pillar of Shame” is the work of German activist Philip Ruch, whose monument points the finger directly at the U.N. and holds that body responsible for the killings.

In July 1995, a so-called “safe zone” controlled by U.N. peacekeepers came under attack by Bosnian Serbs, who then executed approximately 8000 Bosnian Muslim men. It is the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

In an interview, Ruch says,

Looking at Srebrenica, it becomes legally clear that the UN as an international actor stands above the law. It is legally untouchable. Its representatives can do whatever they want. It is the perfect cloak.

Ruch’s statement is warranted: in a 1999 report, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan admitted the U.N. failed, making errors in judgment and “an inability to recognize the scope of the evil confronting us.”

There’s a larger lesson, and it is this: we, as individuals, must not remain passive. It is necessary to built individual and political will that in future will prevent events like the massacre at Srebrenica, Cambodia, Darfur, Rwanda from happening in the first place.

What can be done to prevent further genocide? It’s not enough to stand by and say “that shouldn’t have happened” as anniversaries pass and families bury their dead and wait for justice. We must broaden our awareness, accept responsibility, and take action.

Learn more from these groups working to end genocide:

Stop Genocide Now
Genocide Intervention