Editor’s Note: United to End Genocide’s Shannon Orcutt and Daniel Sullivan arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 23 where they met with civil society leaders from Sudan and South Sudan. They have just arrived in South Sudan where they will continue to hear from people on the ground affected by the recent violence.
“Most families will run out of food by March”, that was the message delivered to us by a man from the Nuba Mountains as we sat in a room full of civil society leaders from Sudan and South Sudan. It was just one of many impassioned pleas from the people directly affected by ongoing violence in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei, and Darfur. We also heard pleas from people, like the Nubians and Manasir, in other marginalized areas of Sudan as well as those facing arbitrary arrest and torture in Khartoum.
It is impossible to convey the passion with which these leaders spoke, but it was reassuring to know that the recommendations they put together will be heard by Africa’s leaders at the African Union summit. It was truly rewarding to play even the smallest part in helping to support these leaders as they crafted their recommendations. We will do our best to bring their voices back to leaders in the United States.
Chief among the recommendations were calls for the government of Sudan to grant immediate and unfettered humanitarian access to areas facing famine in the coming weeks. Other recommendations covered gender equality and the rights of women, the plight of communities affected by dam construction in the North, and the lack of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
There was also a clear call for a truly comprehensive approach to peace in Sudan, one that recognizes that the current government led by Omar al-Bashir as the root cause of conflict and human rights abuses.
Finally, there was a warning of the risks posed by a destructive war, not only within Sudan but also South Sudan, and a plea for the international community to act decisively before it is too late.
As we arrive in South Sudan, we will continue to hear from men, women and children who have been affected by the ongoing atrocities. Over the next couple of weeks we will be reporting back on their stories and doing our best to make sure their voices are heard — not only in Sudan, not only in Africa, but throughout the world.