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.
In early March, the government of Kuwait was taking some positive steps. All stateless bidoun who had been arrested during and after December 2011/January 2012 gatherings were released on bond, while members of parliament were interrogating the prime minister over long-time ill treatment of the bidoun community. It also seemed that the government would finally provide nationality documents to 34,000 bidoun and begin adjudicating at least 80,000 other applications before the parliament’s Bidoun Committee.
Advocacy groups like RI are in the business of trying to make things better. One knock-on effect of that mission is that even when good things happen, we can't relax or rest on our laurels. Instead, we have to go back to work the next day and start pressing for something even better.
But I must confess that even though I work in advocacy, I get irritated by this tendency at times. Every so often, I wish that we could just stop for a moment and take pleasure in the fact that something has gotten better.
On March 20th, longstanding members of the Washington Circle were joined by new friends and supporters at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Nearly 70 guests took time from their busy schedules to join us for a spring luncheon and briefings by RI Board Member and author Roya Hakakian and RI Statelessness Program Manager Sarnata Reynolds.
A "complex security and humanitarian crisis.” That’s how Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) described the situation for Latin America's refugees and displaced people at Tuesday’s panel discussion, Refugees, Displacement, and Hemispheric Stability in Latin America, on Capitol Hill.
Before they first took to the streets, the stateless bidoun community in Kuwait thought extensively about how best to claim their rights to identity, education, and health care (among other concerns). They had studied campaigns from other countries and other periods of history.
Inspired by the U.S. civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., they decided to take a peaceful and non-confrontational approach.
I am listening to the call to morning prayer in Kuwait City. It is beautiful, and one example of the widespread expression of faith in Kuwait. Yet despite the kind and generous gestures of the people I've met here, the bidoun, a stateless population in Kuwait, are afforded no hospitality.
Just as the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) officially gained nationhood six months ago, hundreds of thousands of southern Sudanese were losing their nationality.
While independence was being celebrated in Juba, the government in Khartoum was busy declaring that anyone with family ties to the new country would no longer be Sudanese. They would be stripped of the only nationality they had ever held.