This past October, PHR’s Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin and I had the opportunity to sit in on an appeals hearing in Kaléhé, a small village in South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a case concerning abduction, mass rape, sexual enslavement, and murder.
So often, stories of sexual violence leave one left with a debilitating sense of hopelessness and despair at the extent of the problem and the wide-ranging and enduring effects on survivors and their communities. For this year’s 16 Days Campaign, PHR is pleased to relay the hope, strength, and power that we’ve witnessed while traveling in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where mass rape in conflict situations has been so extreme.
How will South Sudan go about settling the remaining secession negotiations with the north, avoiding further armed conflict with Sudan President Omar al-Bashir’s government? How and to what extent should international actors arbitrate these negotiations?
The border disputes between Sudan and South Sudan persist. Particularly in South Kordofan and the Nuba mountains, the media continues to highlight allegations of ethnic cleansing, extra-judicial and indiscriminate killings, direct targeting of civilians, and evidence of mass graves.
Tuesday, August 9, will mark one month since South Sudan’s official independence and international recognition as Africa’s 54th state. As the new nation begins to form its policies on development issues, its leadership and citizenry must successfully overcome several obstacles. If the fledgling nation is to surmount its history of protracted violence and denial of civilians’ most basic rights, the development of South Sudan must be a constructive and inclusive process.