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.
The ongoing conflict between the Sudans affects daily life for everyone here, whether through fuel shortages or price inflation. But beyond the conflict zone itself, few have been more affected than the hundreds of thousands of southern Sudanese returning from the north.
Mark Yarnell, RI's advocate for the Horn of Africa, appeared on Capitol Hill following his recent mission to Kenya and Ethiopia. He told members of Congress that political leverage (not just aid money) is needed to ensure Somali refugees get the help they need.
As Mark told members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, "where we do have control, and where we do have access, it is our responsibility to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are being met."
Last week, my colleague Erin Weir and I travelled to Kalehe territory in South Kivu. In the village of Kambali, we spoke to host families and displaced people who fled fighting in January between two armed groups: the Raia Mutomboki and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
This post originally appeared on The Hill's Congress Blog.
Driving from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo, I prepare myself for certain things. I know I will be confronted with extreme poverty. I know I will meet people who are facing hardships that would be unendurable to many. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the incredible beauty of the country.
Senior Advocate Peter Orr and I are in North Kivu Province, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This is my fifth visit to the area since I began working for Refugees International in 2007, and in that time there have been a lot of changes.
There have been shifting conflict dynamics and alliances amongst armed groups and the government, new aid efforts to respond better to humanitarian needs, and innovations in the way UN peacekeepers interact with communities to keep people safe.
At last week's London Conference on Somalia, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called for a “firm and durable” solution to the refugee crisis. This includes the return of Somali refugees from the camps in Kenya’s northeast back over the border into Somalia.
This post originally appeared at African Arguments, the blog of the Royal African Society.
Tens of thousands of Somali refugees live in Kenya’s cities, but they are often forgotten amid the region’s myriad refugee problems. So on our recent visit to Kenya, we asked how these people have been affected by the (presumed) Al Shabab attacks on Kenyan refugee camps further afield.
My colleague, Melanie Teff, and I are just back from the main staff complex of the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. Our RI colleagues last visited the camp and met with refugees in October 2011, amid a major influx of Somalis seeking refuge from famine and conflict.