Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sudan-Reach UPDATE – Violence Erupts in Once Peaceful Capital City, Khartoum

In March, I interviewed Laura who (at the time) was planning a trip to the Sudan to volunteer with the Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation.

The Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based non-profit organization that, according to their website, helps "Sudanese women and girls realize their highest potential for personal and social growth through self-empowerment, education, and self-sufficiency. Our goal is to promote positive change in women's lives and enhance the communities in which they live."

Laura recently sent me an update about her trip. Here it is:

“Due to the recent outbreak of violence in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, we at the Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation were forced to cancel our two week volunteer trip scheduled to leave last Saturday, May 17th.

"The surprise attack occurred on May 10th and 11th and was launched by the Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). It is estimated that at least 200 people, including civilians, were killed in the attack.

"Although many assume that all of Sudan has been engulfed by the violence in Darfur and Southern Sudan, this attack was the first time in decades the fighting had spread as far as Khartoum, which lies in the Northern region of Sudan. Khartoum has long been considered one of the safest cities in Africa despite the wars that have raged in the outlying Western and Southern regions for many years.

"Loloa Ibrahim (the Director of Sudan-Reach) and I were shocked and saddened to hear the news that Khartoum had been attacked. Loloa grew up in Khartoum and was understandably in disbelief that the peaceful city of her childhood had become yet another battleground for Sudanese conflict. We read every news update we could find about the attack, which received little informative news coverage due to the Sudanese government's severe press restrictions, and waited for updates from Loloa's relatives and friends in Khartoum.

"Most of the fighting occurred in Omdurman, a suburb of Khartoum, where the majority of our volunteer work was to take place. It quickly became clear to us that the situation was still too volatile and unpredictable for ourselves and our volunteers to travel to Khartoum safely. After much deliberation and at the advice of our contacts in Khartoum, we made the difficult decision to postpone the trip.

"Despite this setback, we still plan on taking our group of volunteers to Khartoum at some point in the near future. This will most likely happen in January of 2009, although there is a chance it could happen sooner. We'd like to thank everyone who supported our trip these past few months. Without the support of our local community, the work we do at Sudan-Reach would not be possible.

"Feel free to check our website frequently for updates on the status of the trip as well as local events and programs.”

Thank you for the update Laura, this is unfortunate news.

This outbreak of violence in the once peaceful capital city of Khartoum is a prime example of how volatile the entire county is, as well as a testament to the need and continued support of organizations like the Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation.

No comments: