Drawing upon the voices of cultural leaders to protect and assist the vulnerable, marginalized and displaced.
In an effort to help draw attention to the country’s continuing humanitarian crisis, Not On Our Watch board member Matt Damon traveled to the Zimbabwe border town of Musina on Tuesday, meeting with Zimbabwean refugees forced to flee their home country to survive. The visit follows last month's high level Not On Our Watch advocacy trip to the Darfur region with founder George Clooney.
Having recently returned from a trip to the Darfur region, Not On Our Watch board member George Clooney sat down at the White House on Feb. 23 with US President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden to discuss ending the genocide in Darfur. Clooney and Obama had previously teamed to engage on the crisis in Darfur. In 2006, they spoke at the Save Darfur Rally and later addressed the international media in a joint press conference, calling for the rapid deployment of United Nations peacekeepers to stop the carnage in Darfur.
Few have ever heard of the Nuba Mountains village of Um Bartumbu, and fewer still have been there. It is located in the conflict-torn state of South Kordofan, Sudan, where troops fighting for the government of Sudan, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North, or SPLM/A-N, have been fighting since June 2011. Um Bartumbu Village does not appear on most maps, but it hosts a clinic, a mosque, Sudanese Church of Christ, several storerooms, a communal grinding mill, and copses of desert date trees. But for new eyewitness reports obtained by citizen journalists, the recent discovery and release of a cellphone video, and new confirmation from DigitalGlobe and Landsat satellite imagery, the world would never know of the razing of the village and the forced flight of its inhabitants.
With the 23rd anniversary of President Omar al-Bashir’s oppressive rule fast approaching, protests have swept through Sudan’s capital and neighboring cities. Yet this series of demonstrations “feels different” than previous anti-regime protests, report activists on the ground. Recent austerity measures and price increases have mobilized hundreds of Sudanese to take to the streets shouting, “The people want to bring down the regime!”—a chant that had resonated throughout the Arab world last spring.
JUBA, South Sudan -- Humanitarian aid groups working in South Sudan report that, in the last three weeks, over 35,000 refugees from the Sudanese state of Blue Nile have entered transit centers and over-stretched refugee camps in Upper Nile state. The first week of June alone saw an average of 4,000 people a day streaming across the North-South border into Upper Nile. This influx brings the total number of refugees in the South Sudanese state of Upper Nile to 105,000, a staggering number that exceeds the capacity of the state’s two existing refugee camps, Jammam and Doro.
While many Sudan observers are looking ahead to South Sudan’s first birthday in July, there is another, less auspicious, anniversary to commemorate. Today, June 5, marks one year since the beginning of hostilities in South Kordofan state. The Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, have been engaged in combat over the last year; however, a hallmark of the violence has been the SAF’s relentless targeting of civilians, use of indiscriminate bombing, and continued denial of humanitarian aid to devastated and food insecure communities.
The Sudanese government has banned at least four foreign humanitarian agencies from working in the eastern region of the country. The decision last week by the Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Commission, or HAC, to suspend projects in the deeply impoverished East is yet another example of Khartoum’s continued pattern of obstruction and neglect of peripheral areas. In addition to the recent developments in the East, humanitarian access remains severely hampered in Darfur and has been completed blocked in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.