Monday, March 2, 2009

dreadlocked child soldiers

In case the news hasn't reached the US, the LRA is still movin' and shakin' their dreadlocked child soldiers all over Southern Sudan and Eastern Congo. There are thousands of refugees in Central and Western Equitoria states and more people keep pouring in from taking refuge in the bush.

Simba's Dad, who also works in Southern Sudan in a town called Maridi, had to grab his quick run bag, run to his car, and drive 7 hours to Juba in order to avoid gunfire next to his compound. There were only 7 LRA members against a whole SPLA barracks, and a whole battalion of UNMIS peacekeepers, and the latter two groups just scattered. People were running away from 7 men. This article does a fantastic job of presenting how some communities are handling the insecurity by defending themselves when they realize no help is coming.

This war in Eastern Congo and with the LRA has been going on for so long (20 years!) and the only hope I have is that the media is able to influence enough coverage for people to stand up and take note. Although with the troubles of President Bashir in Darfur and Gaza there is only so much that people can focus on at any one time.

Although it did not get picked up by any international news agency, there was heavy fighting in Malakal (capital of a Southern Sudanese state very very far away from Juba) last week by a renegade rebel General with dubious ties to both the North and to the Vice President of the South who had conveniently timed his attack for the day Bashir came to Juba, shutting down the Juba airport (took me over an hour to drive the 20 mins to work) and preventing the UN from evacuating NGO staff in a timely manner (they finally did so a couple days later). A friend mentioned UNICEF staff had to hide under their prefabs and had to yell their updates into the phone to be heard over the explosions. Together with the announcement by the ICC that will take place this Wednesday on whether President Bashir will be inicted makes things in Southern Sudan a little...depressing right now.

Before you completely freak out, the security situation has been assessed by multiple parties and there is no indication that there will be any trouble in Juba. And we are prepared.

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