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.
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.