Wednesday, December 5th, marked the deadline given by the African Union (AU) for the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to reach agreement on the contested border state of Abyei.
Throughout repeated rounds of Juba-Khartoum negotiations (and despite the efforts of the AU and U.S. mediators), the dispute over Abyei has remained intractable. As Wednesday’s deadline came and passed, the two countries remained just as gridlocked as they were in early September, when this most recent round of talks began.
I am excited to be joining RI as the new advocate for DRC and the Sudans. With the presidential election now approaching, and renewed Congressional interest in the conflicts of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is an exhilarating time to be joining the organization.
As the 67th General Assembly opens this week, and as the United Nations gears up for the countless high-level meetings and side events that follow, the enormity of the challenges facing the UN is striking.
By now you may have heard that refugee marathoner Guor Marial, who was featured on this blog last week, has been allowed to compete as an independent athlete at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The decision, which was confirmed to RI in a letter from International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, is a triumph for Guor and his supporters - some of whom worked tirelessly for months to make his Olympic dream a reality.
This week, thousands of athletes and staff are arriving in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which kick off on July 27. But there is one deserving athlete whose invitation hasn't yet arrived. His name is Guor Marial, and last month he qualified for the Olympic marathon with the blistering time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, and 55 seconds.
The protest movement that is now surging through Sudan has been building gradually for months. In the last two weeks, however, public outrage against the government has boiled over – not only in Khartoum, but in other major cities as well.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Wednesday demanding that Sudan and South Sudan immediately stop fighting and conclude negotiations within three months on the issues of citizenship, oil revenue sharing, borders, and the status of Abyei.
The recent conflict between Sudan and South Sudan has seen civilians in border areas subjected to brutal attacks by both sides. However, as I found while in South Sudan last week, the impact of this conflict goes far beyond the disputed areas of Heglig or Abyei, threatening many more lives.
Prior to the most recent round of fighting, millions of Sudanese on both sides of the border were already displaced and vulnerable - from the restive Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, to South Sudanese villages emptied by tribal conflicts.