Posts Tagged ‘Dinka’

By Refugees International
The referendum on southern Sudan’s secession from the north took place as scheduled in January of this year, with over 98% of southerners voting for an independent south Sudan. This is seen as a promise of change in the lives of southerners, who suffered through decades of war and the displacement that went with it for millions of them.

The transition to independence in July may not be entirely peaceful, however, as violent clashes continue not only in the transitional area of Abyei territory, coveted by both North and South, but also in several southern states.

Some of the clashes are indigenous disputes over land and cattle between neighboring ethnic groups, sub-groups and clans. In recent years the toll in terms of casualties and displaced is higher due to the exponential growth in the availability of automatic firearms.

Other violence appears at first glance to have nothing to do with Sudan: southern Sudanese in Western and Central Equatoria states suffer from destructive raids by the Lord’s Resistance Army, an armed opposition group from northern Uganda. The LRA now operates in a vast area straddling the borders between Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Its attacks often involve kidnapping of children to be turned into soldiers and provoke displacement in all three countries. Seemingly an outside actor, the LRA in fact received support during the war from Khartoum, which is strongly suspected of continuing that covert support even today.

In contrast, the Khartoum government is very clear in its intentions concerning Abyei: to maintain control of this oil-rich territory by assisting the cattle-herding Misseriya tribe in their fight to keep Abyei part of Southern Kordofan. Northerners argue that the territory was never part of the south – in the administrative map upon Sudan’s independence in 1956, Abyei fell within the boundaries of Kordofan. Southerners insist that it should nonetheless be consider part of the south because the Ngok Dinka majority of the settled population of Abyei is southern, indeed part of the south’s largest ethnic group.

And then there is the series of rebellions in several southern states. Seemingly based on local grievances against the semi-autonomous government of southern Sudan, the rebellions are strongly suspected of receiving support from elements of the government in Khartoum who – according to the current speculation – want at the very least to ensure that the future Republic of South Sudan is weak and divided and thereby more easily manipulated by Khartoum.

One of the latest of rebellions to spark has been in oil-rich Unity State, the scene of massive displacement and human rights violations during the war. The leader of the supposedly local uprising is none other than Peter Gadet, notorious during the war years for his leadership of a Khartoum-backed militia group that cleared thousands of people out of vast swaths of land to make way for oil installations and the pipeline. Some of the rebel leaders in other states have similarly sordid histories. Hence the impression that despite the six-year-old Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the war is making a comeback in the lives of southern Sudanese.

The U.S. government needs to up the pressure on Khartoum and Juba to complete the CPA process and, more specifically, to make the political compromises necessary to stop the violence.

By Peter Orr, Senior advocate at Refugees International

Tuesday 23rd November 2010

I was at the HARDA (Horn of Africa Relief & Development Agency) office today as usual for my Tuesday Morning Volunteering to co-ordinate the African Men’s English Program. We had a great conversation at our Morning Tea session and i thought it was worthwhile to discuss.

John, (our dear leader) had raised the subject of how hard it was for African Refugee’s to gain employment in Australia and what services are available out there for further training. It was a great topic. A few of our students were really encouraged and opened up to us. “I worked for 20 months after coming to Australia as a printer” Santino from our level 3 english classed divulged. “In Sudan i worked as a printer in Khartoum”. He also added. “In Australia i learnt great lessons in my 20 months working, that quality of product is very important, the machinery is different and up to date in technology, that arriving on time to work is very important.” Santino advised. “I’ve applied for over 30 jobs in the Construction Industry” Spoke Ateem, “yet i’ve not gotten a job yet”. Ateem previously worked in construction for 12-18 months but was unable to continue his employment due to his english skills. This is why they attend our Mens English and Computer Classes, so he can gain a better understanding of the english language and how to adjust to life here in Australia in a casual and stress free setting. Even though they have completed 500 hours of English training through TAFE, they found that coming from a non english speaking country (in particular Dinka, tribal or Arabic languages) it is much harder to understand and learn english. They found that TAFE did not make them feel confident in learning the english language and they could not have too much extra help due to the high amount of students per teacher. Our courses offer low student to teacher ratio to ensure effective learning and absorbing of information.

This journey i have begun with the Southern Sudanese Community in NSW has been an amazing journey full of interesting, heart breaking and couraging stories of life. I really cannot fathome how there is so much racism and misinformation surrounding these lovely people living in our beautiful and free country. My dear Aussies, i ask of you to just take the time to get to know these wonderful and resilient people and the friendships you will make are ones that will last the tests of time. My friends have such wonderful faith and kindness to share with the world, their amazing culture and traditions are to be retained for their future generations and their expressions of love and life through dance and song is to be adored. They make the most amazing music and dances i have seen.

So its now time for me to sign off for tonight but i leave you with a refreshed and revamped website that i have been working on tonight to update my information as my paths entangle and my life takes on new challenges and projects, i hope to continue on this journey with you.
-Freeuganda

In recent weeks there have been requests  for new Sudanese Referendum Registration Centres to be opened around Australia.  As Australia is such a vast country and therefore should have registration centres in each state.  Due to the calls for more centres, 2 new centres have been arranged and are in the process of opening in the coming days.

HR Manager, David Miche’l from the The International Organization for Migration in Canberra has confirmed this morning that new Referendum Registration Centres will be opened in Australia. Two (2) new locations have been confirmed in Brisbane, QLD and Perth, WA.

Brisbane Location is (CBD):

Hospitality Suite, Exhibition Hall 1

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Merivale St, Southbank QLD

Brisbane Registrations will be opened from  Tuesday 23rd November (an exact time frame on how long they will remain open is not yet available)

PERTH LOCATION is due to be released this week and an updated post will be submitted as soon as information is received.

For more information about the REFERENDUM in SUDAN please Click HERE

7th November 2010;  © Copyright Rebecca Fowler

Sydney Baha’i Centre in Silverwater came alive last night (saturday 6th November) as the Bahr El Gahzar Community of NSW Youth Union held their 2nd annual Culture Day.

Invited by a student that i work with through the HARDA African Mens English Project, i was enthralled in culture the moment i walked through the doors.

Arriving at around 6.15pm i was greeted by some 500+ Bahr El Gahzar community members. Speech’s were made by community leaders and Youth leaders and songs from the homeland sung to unite the community. I was engaged in cultural dancing and song. A local Bahr El Gahzar rap group of Youth’s took to the stage and the atmosphere turned electric. As soon as these youth picked up the microphones the crowd went wild. they belted out their tune singing about a “New Sudan” and “Unity” between the Southern Sudanese. It was a great moment, part of it i was able to capture on video but due to the noise of the screams had to cut it short…VIDEO HERE

The Youth Leaders spoke to the youth of the community about how they need to use their time in Australia for good. To stick with their education and be motivated by the prospects of a New Sudan in the year ahead. Supporting the referendum in January was also high on the list, as well as keeping the youth off the streets.

As a westerner looking in on African Culture it seems we are not so different. The challenges they face with their youth here are exactly what we face with our youth. Our culture is as baffling and confusing to them as theirs is to us and yet they carry on each day with such resiliance and motivation it needs to be commended. Imagine coming from a very rural village to a major city bustling with trains, cars, traffic, traffic jams, accidents, sirens, complete and utter chaos is basically how you could describe the transition.  But it has its up side, our country is at peace, and unfortunately Sudan is not. Decades of war have taken its toll on these people and the only way to sustain their lives and culture was to leave their homeland and seek shelter in a country of peace. We are so lucky to have such resiliant visitors to our shores, let us hear of their stories, learn a bit about them and their cultures and you will find they are just sooo much like us. Family is important, community is important, love, friendship, fun, entertainment, dancing, singing, you would be utterly surprised how alike we are. Aside from skin colour, we are all similar and i really don’t know how people cannot see this.

Coming from Rural Sudan to Blacktown City of Australia must be a huge and amazing change of life and circumstances. Blacktown City is a vast city that has expanded massivly in the last 30 years. I should know, i was born here. As a local Blacktowner i have seen my town grown into a vast city, seen our vast array of bushland be cleared for Urban development, seen our infastructure fall behind due to the vast rise of population and seen the massive change in the community. The Southern Sudanese who have came here have done a remarkable job to adjust to the hustle and bustle of Australian life after years of living in war torn areas. We don’t realise being Australians how confusing our rail or bus system can be to a new Australian. How our tax system can boggle their minds and how even using our vast array of electrical knick knacks can seem like you need to take course to use it.

After my experience last night, being welcomed into the Bahr El Gahzar community i feel so completely honored and motivated. I hope that in January of 2011, A New Sudan will emerge through the referendum and my dear friends who would love to return to their homeland are able to do so as free and democratic citizens of a “New Sudan”.

FreeUganda (Apologies for the poor quality footage, my video camera is requiring a new charger cable)