Garang, who had been the leader of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement, the rebel movement in Southern Sudan, was a signatory to the Comprehensive Peace Accord that in January ended the 21-year strife between north and south. On July 9, he became the First Vice President of Sudan, as the new government agreed upon in the Peace Accord took effect. He died this weekend in a helicopter crash returning from an official visit to neighboring Uganda.
"John Garang's unfortunate and tragic death makes an already precarious peace agreement that much more vulnerable," said LWR president Kathryn Wolford. "Now, more than ever, the international community needs to maintain both its political pressure on all sides to honor their commitments, and its support for the vital humanitarian and reconstruction efforts the region will need if lasting peace can truly be achieved. The people of Sudan deserve nothing less and we must not allow this tragedy to undo the prospects for reconciliation."
Lutheran World Relief is committed to addressing root causes of conflict, poverty and injustice, and it is because of this commitment that LWR has made Sudan one of its highest priorities. With nearly $5 million in programming in Sudan and for Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries, it is the agency's single largest investment in one country, reflecting faith in a holistic approach to addressing Sudan 's problems and a vision that its citizens can live in justice, dignity and peace.
The Situation in Sudan
The 21-year conflict in Southern Sudan caused the death and displacement of millions of people. More than 1.5 million people have been killed, another 3.5 million have been forced out of their homelands, and almost 600,000 have fled to neighboring countries where they remain in refugee camps with grim prospects. With the end of this war, many of the millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have begun returning to their homes in the south, with little more than the clothes on their backs and often no way of making a living in their decimated villages after they arrive. Potential also exists for tension between the returnees and those who elected to stay behind during the war, as the massive returns will place strain on the already-limited resources.
In a related and brutal conflict between the government and rebels in Darfur, nearly 2 million people have been targeted and subjected to massive human rights abuses, driven from their villages and landing in scattered and hastily created camps in their own country and in neighboring Chad. Additionally, strife is now breaking out in eastern Sudan, causing mass displacements, but in light of the North-South agreement and the continuing conflict in Darfur, the new crisis in the East has received very little media attention.
LWR's Multifaceted Approach
Emergency Response: LWR's Work in Darfur
The crisis in Darfur has been called the 21st century's first genocide. LWR considers it a moral imperative to respond the crisis, and as such has made the area a high priority. By working with local and regional partners, LWR has continued assisting more than half a million people living in camps and in burned-out villages through:
- Shelter, water, sanitation, bedding and kitchen utensils for internally displaced people and their hosts.
- Camp construction, including water and sanitation (improvement of water supplies, construction of and rehabilitation of latrines and hand-washing facilities, disposal of solid waste, vector control and drainage, and hygiene promotion for as many as 30,000 refugees in neighboring Chad, plus seeds and tools for gardening.
- Supplementary food (50-percent ration) for 50,000 displaced children under aged five, plus education for children in the camps.
- Protection and counseling for women traumatized by rape and violence, still subject to assault outside the camps and vulnerable with their children to abuse that can occur in camp communities.
- Material Resources : LWR is also providing material resources that serve as basic survival and emergency items.
Refugee Assistance and Resettlement in Southern Sudan
LWR, working with longtime partners, is working to address the immediate needs of tens of thousands of vulnerable returning refugees and internally displaced people and host communities in Bor, Southern Sudan by providing:
- Basic shelter and household items for immediate relief.
- Clinics to meet primary health needs.
- Seeds, tools and agriculture training to restart agricultural production.
- Training in leadership and community mobilization.
Refugee Assistance in Kenya
LWR's commitment to the Sudanese people extends beyond national borders to include those forced to flee due to the conflict. Through the Sudanese Repatriation and Reintegration Program, LWR works with Sudanese refugees in Kenya to :
- Prepare Sudanese refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp for and undertake successful repatriation by establishing and managing the Departure Center.
- Reinforce gender equity and protection.
- Increase water availability and management skills.
- Strengthen peace building and conflict resolution skills.
- Establish adequate program support and management capacity, including landmine awareness sessions.
- Expand secondary school facilities.
LWR is also working to improving the livelihood of Sudanese refugee families in Nairobi, Kenya and other Kenyan urban centers by:
- Providing access to working capital through an expanded and better-managed micro-credit facility.
- Delivering business development and management training.
- Extending functional literacy.
- Undertaking more focused p eace building efforts to train and encourage local leadership, respect for gender issues, human rights, and advocacy.
LWR's efforts, carried out in close coordination with partner agencies, provide part of the foundation that will help the people of Sudan survive today and prepare for their future. They are, however, not enough. The humanitarian needs for Darfurians are urgent and more support is needed to ensure their safety, food security, access to water, and basic health needs. The prospects for peace in the South, especially without Garang, will need sustained and increased support. LWR will be there, as always, for the long term, working for justice, dignity and peace for the Sudanese people.