This post originally appeared at ThinkProgress.
Bor, South Sudan – It has been a dark week in Jonglei State in eastern South Sudan. On Friday night, the last of the humanitarian workers in Pibor town were evacuated by UN helicopter as South Sudanese forces roamed the dusty streets, attacking civilians and looting anything they could carry.
This post originally appeared on UN Dispatch.
Today, Marcy Hersh and I are en route to South Sudan, where we will spend the next three weeks assessing the conditions for displaced people in two of the harshest and most isolated areas of the country. In Jonglei and Unity states, an estimated 180,000 displaced persons are taking shelter in camps, with host families, and hiding in the bush, often with little to no support from the UN or humanitarian agencies.
The South Sudanese army (SPLA) is preparing this week to launch a major military offensive in Jonglei State against rebel leader David Yau Yau. The new operation comes after multiple failed attempts to convince Yau Yau to cease hostilities in the region.
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.