Tag Archives: International

Sudan: What’s next for Abyei?

Sudan (orthographic projection)

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*This blog was written by Noah Gottschalk, Senior policy advisor for humanitarian response at Oxfam America.*

As humanitarian organizations and the UN strive to meet the immediate needs of displaced people, Oxfam is calling on the UN Security Council to ensure that the new peacekeeping mission in Sudan makes protecting civilians from violence its top priority.

Tensions are running high in Sudan, where an upsurge in violence in the border region of Abyei has displaced tens of thousands of people and raised fears of a return to all-out war.

With just over six weeks to go before South Sudan becomes the world’s newest country, the world’s focus has largely been on the incredible accomplishments of the largely peaceful referendum held last January to determine the future of Sudan. The results of that vote, which was a key provision of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended more than two decades of conflict, were overwhelmingly for secession, and southerners have been readying themselves for what they had hoped would be a peaceful independence day.

Yet with the violence in Abyei – an area roughly the size of Connecticut that was one of the worst-affected areas during the war and has long been seen as a key flashpoint of conflict –the security situation is on a knife-edge. The conflict in Abyei comes at a time when southern Sudan is facing its most violent year since the end of the civil war in 2005. Not including these recent events, over 1,400 people have been killed in southern Sudan so far this year – already more than in the whole of 2010 – and at least 117,000 have fled their homes, as violence has dramatically increased in recent months.

The Sudan referendum happened peacefully, but violence has broken out in the border region of Abyei. Photo by Alun McDonald/Oxfam The Sudan referendum happened peacefully, but violence has broken out in the border region of Abyei. Photo by Alun McDonald/Oxfam

Abyei itself has been the site of conflict several times since the signing of the CPA. In May 2008, more than 50,000 people were displaced from Abyei, and much of the town was destroyed by fighting and subsequent looting. Just over two months ago, in March of this year, more than 150 people were killed and at least 25,000 people fled in fear.

Southern Sudan is already one of the poorest and least-developed regions in the world. Less than half the population has access to clean water and maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the world. There are barely any tarmac roads in the entire region, an area roughly the size of Texas, and during heavy rains many areas are cut off for months at a time, making the delivery of humanitarian aid almost impossible. Some 97% of women cannot read or write (overall illiteracy is about 80 percent of adults) and one in seven children die before their fifth birthday. Since the peace treaty was signed, the South has experienced violence, flooding, and drought, yet its people have made some remarkable strides with the help of the US and other international donors. Oxfam has worked in the south for 27 years, providing water and sanitation, responding to humanitarian emergencies, and supporting livelihoods.

Yet development gains can all too easily be wiped out by conflict, and so Oxfam is calling on the UN Security Council, which is currently reviewing the mandate of the peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), to ensure the new mission makes protecting civilians from violence its top priority. This would mean having a mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

In the past, the UN peacekeeping mission has struggled and at times failed to protect people in southern Sudan from violence, but the Security Council now has a chance to put that right. Oxfam is calling for the new peacekeeping mission, which is planned to take up its mandate after independence, to deploy more troops to the most volatile “hotspot” areas, and ensure that they have the right training and equipment to be able to deter outbreaks of violence, and to respond rapidly as incidents occur. Peacekeepers should be able to carry out more long-range patrols and spend more time consulting with at-risk communities. Better monitoring by civilian staff of human rights abuses and potential areas of conflict is also needed.

In response to the latest outbreak of violence, humanitarian organizations and the United Nations are working to support the basic needs of the displaced people, many of whom fled with little to nothing. But the start of the rainy season could make efforts by humanitarian agencies to reach the displaced increasingly difficult.

In addition to meeting the needs of those affected by the violence, the international community must increase its efforts to prevent the situation on the ground from worsening. UNMIS does not have the capacity to physically intervene between the two parties, but it does have a mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of violence.

Stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook to hear the latest news and learn about ways you can help.

To support Oxfam’s response, click here to donate to the Sudan Crisis Relief and Rehabilitation Fund.


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Student Conservation Association

Interested in protecting the planet? Passionate about plants and sustainability?

Check out the Student Conservation Association. Recent news and upcoming opportunities are posted here.

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Filed under Community Partner, How cool is that?!, National, Volunteer Opportunities

Still Time to Apply to IPSL Summer Service Programs

Dear Colleagues:

While Summer Deadlines for IPSL Study Abroad and Service-Learning Programs are fast approaching, we are still accepting applications and there is still space in most of our programs.

If you have students who may be just deciding to experience an international study and volunteer program, have them check out the IPSL website at http://www.ipsl.org/programs/where-we-go for all our program details.

Our last deadlines are June 8th for Cusco, Peru and June 10th for Montpellier, France. Guayaquil, Quito, Kolkata, Valladolid and Chiang Mai have earlier deadlines.

There is an easy online application at http://www.ipsl.org/apply and best of all, most programs do not require a visa! Summer programs are an ideal way for students to “get their feet wet” in international study and volunteer service without a lengthy time commitment or huge expense. And, it is a great way to practice another language, augment your studies with interesting courses, and gain valuable work skills by volunteering in a non-profit abroad. 

Please let us know if you have students you are currently working with who are planning on doing an IPSL program.

We hope to see many of your students on our programs!
Arianne Newton
Director of Programs
International Partnership for Service Learning & Leadership
1515 SW 5th Ave. Suite 606
Portland, OR 97201
ph 503-9541812
fax 503-9541881


filled with great stories from our alumni.

Check out our new IPSL page on Facebook with lots of great photos! Search Facebook for International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership and you will find it. BECOME A FAN!

The mission of the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership is to engage students, educators, and community members in the union of service and learning, so that all may become more civically engaged, interculturally literate, internationally aware, and responsive to the needs of others.

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Give and Surf Volunteer Opportunity

Mer des Caraïbes à Bocas del Toro (Panama)

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Friends of Give and Surf,

I am happy to share with you information about my non-profit volunteer organization Give and Surf in the islands of Bocas del Toro, Panama.  We are interested in hosting yourself and volunteers from your college at some point in the future.  We feel very fortunate to work with an indigenous Ngobe Indian community on the following initiatives; water catchment installations, educational programs, playground/community constructions, and much more. 

Please view our website at giveandsurf.org for more information on who we are, our volunteer program, and what to expect when volunteering with us in paradise.  If you have a volunteer resource center or website where I can provide students with information please feel free to post our website or contact me.  I also welcome the opportunity to visit your campus and discuss our organization with you in person.

Please feel free to contact me personally with any questions at info@giveandsurf.org.

Hope you can join us,  

Neil and Jaime


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Japanese Cultural Dinner: Volunteers Needed

Coordinators need volunteers to help with the event during 3-8 p.m. Volunteers are encouraged to sign-up in shifts. To get involved, contact Naho Timson at naho.timson@okstate.edu or 405-744-5482.

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For Japan: Students Against Hunger

The recent earthquake and massive tsunami have left hundreds of thousands in Japan homeless and in need of everything from food to medical supplies. It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of this tragedy, and the fears still faced by thousands of people in Japan.

To help, we’re encouraging students to raise funds for organizations already on the ground providing medical attention and working to make sure people’s immediate needs are met.

Download our guide to hold your own event, and let us know what you have planned.

While organizations are not looking for volunteers right now, they do need funds to make sure they can respond quickly. Two of the organizations already on the ground and needing donations are Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross. If you are able, please donate today.

Megan Fitzgerald
Program Director
National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness

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