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article imageOp-Ed: Power of the Sudan peace builders

By Nancy Houser     Mar 18, 2012 in World
Ethnic cleansing in Sudan has many faces --- the "Arab-African conflict," "the Darfur problem," and the "North-South conflict." The longest running conflict in Africa, its tribal differences and oil related conflicts have compounded Sudan's problems.
For outsiders looking into the complexities of Sudan, it is difficult to understand or appreciate the potential and power of Sudan peace builders. The powerful names of George Clooney and his journalist father, Nick Clooney, have brought attention to the Sudan conflicts, and have for many years.
Now they add strength to locally led peace building organizations for communities shredded from war, brokering a ceasefire between the rival Nuba, Misseriyah and Dajou tribes. The communities of South Kordofan and Unity State also see agreements being made for ceasefires.
On the other side of the fence, Insight on Conflicts reports that the actions of Sudan's president, Omar Al-Bashir, have the potential for Sudan to draw in surrounding countries and provoking a regional war, making a bad problem worse.
The atrocities by Omar Al-Bashir against his country are supported by armed forces, government-backed militias and armed opposition groups. A major focus has been Sudanese children, kidnapped by Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army, for the purpose of sex slaves and child soldiers in order to maintain Al-Bashir's strength and power over Sudan --- yet hours ago Voice of America reported that the Army of South Sudan has promised to release all remaining child soldiers.
According to the U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, a 2005 deal between the Army of South Sudan and the United Nations will soon release the last of the Sudanese captured children. Since the agreement was first made, three thousand children have slowly been released by the Sudan People's Liberation Army ( a former guerrilla movement that won South Sudan's freedom last July).
The power of international Sudan peace builders in some ways is limited: aid agencies are refused access; appeals are made by the international NGOs; it is doubtful whether the northern UN mission will be renewed; most of the international aid is rebuffed by Omar Al-Bashir; and the violence continues to escalate. However, what is going on today in Sudan proves that peace builders are vital in playing a short-term role in preventing violence.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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