New leaders: women of South Sudan’s camp speak

By Antony Loewenstein

The number of South Sudanese seeking refuge in the United Nations compound in Bentiu has risen above 100,000, the organisation has announced, making it the country’s largest camp for those fleeing the civil war that has killed more than 50,000 people since 2013.

South Sudan marked the fourth anniversary of independence from Sudan earlier this month, but the ongoing conflict between forces loyal to the president, Salva Kiir, and rebels supporting his former deputy, Riek Machar, has left little to celebrate.

Humanitarian organisations say they are struggling to cope with the influx of people to the camp, and conditions are grim as the rainy season — which runs from April to November — envelops everything in thick mud.

With the 100,000 milestone reached, three women living in the camp spoke about how they ended up there – and what they want for the future.

‘I don’t want to live alongside my enemies’

My name is Julia John and I’m 25 years old. I have three children, one-year-old Tuach, three-year-old Nyachiew and eight-year-old Nyawuora. I’ve been in this camp for 18 months. There was fighting outside my house in Bentiu town and we had to flee. My husband, Henry, is also here. Every day I am cooking, collecting firewood, getting water and taking care of my children. I hope for peace and the guns silenced. I will return to my home but I don’t want to live alongside my enemies.

I was hopeful in 2011, during our independence, for a South Sudan with no killing. I want to tell President Salva Kiir that many people have been killed and we need peace. As a woman in South Sudan, we are suffering because when we try to help our children, men can rape and kill us. When we go to collect firewood near this camp, government troops can get us. We are vulnerable.

I know some women who are getting treatment in Juba [the capital] after being attacked. In this camp, the UN supports us but we need firewood and charcoal because we have to leave this place to find them and that brings risk for us from government soldiers. I hope the UN and NGOs can address this.

‘We are not free in our own country’

My name is Tabitha Nyakuon Gai and I’m 36 years old. I’m from the Nhialdin area in Rubkona County. I have six children. I’ve been in this camp for one month. I had to walk two days to get here. My husband is fighting with the rebels and I don’t know where he is. I’ve had no contact with him since September last year. I miss him.

It’s hard to manage kids on my own. My husband fights a just war because the government has killed so many people. Every day I collect firewood and then sell it to make a little money to buy milk for my children.

In 2011 at independence I was happy because I didn’t want to be with Sudan anymore. I wanted to be free. We thought we should be united so it’s hard to believe that we are not free in our own country anymore. Hope disappeared in one minute. I’m worried about my kids’ future — there are no schools, and only the UN gives us food. If the UN leaves, who will feed us?

President Kiir has been in power for 10 years [Kiir served as regional governor before independence] so if I meet him I’ll tell him to leave office. It’s time to give the role to somebody else. Riek Machar has been waiting for so long, give him a chance and then after that Machar can hand over power to somebody else. It’s not right that one person holds power for so long.

‘Now there’s just insecurity’

My name is Nyaduop Machar Puot and I’m 37 years old. I have five children. I came from Boau village in Koch country. It took me six days to walk here. My cattle were taken and house burned. I had to flee. I had no choice. A government-affiliated militia attacked me. I saw women and children burned alive in a tukul [traditional South Sudanese home] by militias. When I saw people burned alive I knew I had to leave my village. I saw two people killed like this and they were my friends. My husband is still back in the village. I don’t know if he’s okay. He could not leave with us because he’s an old man with bad legs. I’ve been two months here in Bentiu.

When independence was declared in 2011, I expected there would be services for my kids and now there’s just insecurity. Today I cannot walk freely. I cannot help my children because South Sudan is at war and in a mess.

My message to President Kiir is that your turn is done. Let Machar take over. If Kiir doesn’t agree, both men should leave and not seek power. It’s time for new people at the top.

Compared to life in the village, life in this camp is safer. I still need shelter here because I’m living in temporary housing [her family resides in a flood-prone area of the camp]. The UN tells me it’s coming soon. I hope so because I need to protect my family.

from The Guardian (http://women.mg.co.za/we-need-new-leaders-women-of-south-sudans-bentiu-camp-speak)

Malala’s 18th Birthday With Syrian Refugee Girls

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By Malala Fund Blog

Today, on the third annual “Malala Day,” Malala Yousafzai marked her 18th birthday in Lebanon, opening the Malala Fund’s “Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School” near the Syrian border, which will provide quality secondary education to more than 200 Syrian girls living in informal camps and out of school in the Bekaa Valley region.

In honor of Malala Day, we also announced a new grant of $250,000 USD in support to UNICEF and UNHCR, to meet the funding shortfall for girls’ school programming in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp.

Credit: Malin Fezehai / HUMAN for the Malala Fund

“I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria. I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them,” Malala said. “On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world – you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria’s children. This is a heartbreaking tragedy – the world’s worst refugee crisis in decades.”

In Lebanon, the Malala Fund is providing funding to local partner NGO the KAYANY Foundation to provide baccalaureate and life skills training to 200 Syrian refugee girls ages 14 to 18. The new curriculum will enable students to receive their baccalaureate or vocational degrees through the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education or the Syrian equivalent. Students unable to commit to the four-year baccalaureate training will participate in skills courses intended to help them find work and generate their own incomes.

Credit: Malin Fezehai / HUMAN for the Malala Fund

Leading up to Malala Day, people globally have taken action in support of Malala Fund’s #BooksNotBullets campaign to shine a light on the importance of quality education for girls around the world. Together with leading education groups, the Malala Fund is calling on world leaders to invest an additional US $39 billion in education – the equivalent of only eight days of military spending – to ensure that every child gets 12 years of free, quality primary and secondary education. The online campaign culminates this Sunday for Malala’s birthday.

“On behalf of the world’s children, I demand of our leaders to invest in books instead of bullets. Books, not bullets, will pave the path toward peace and prosperity. Our voices will continue to get louder and louder until we see politicians and our governments invest in the education of their youth rather than military and war,” said Malala. “To all the students, you will read new books. You will discover new ideas. You will learn together. You will dream together. And you will inspire the world,” Malala concluded.

from Malala Fund Blog (http://community.malala.org/malala-marks-18th-birthday-in-solidarity-with-syrian-refugee-girls-1245003411.html)

IOM Gets 1 Million for Gender-Based Violence in CAR

IOM received CAD 1.024 M from the Government of Canada to support ongoing efforts to reduce the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (File Photo). © IOM/Sandra Black 2014

IOM received CAD 1.024 M from the Government of Canada to support ongoing efforts to reduce the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (File Photo). © IOM/Sandra Black 2014

Central African Republic – IOM has received CAD 1.024 million from the Government of Canada, through its Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF) to support ongoing efforts to reduce the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the Central African Republic (CAR), with a particular focus on conflict-affected women and girls, including returnees.

A year-and-a-half after the onset of the crisis in CAR, rape and other forms of SGBV remain one of the highest security concerns of women and girls caught up in the recent conflict, which at its height, resulted in the displacement of an estimated 900,000 people who continue to seek protection and assistance across the country.

Through its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) system, IOM has observed and reported several cases of sexual violence targeting returnees in their area of return, confirming reports from NGOs, and furthermore affirming that the reasons for continued displacement are directly linked to security concerns in the areas of return. These concerns are caused among others by the inadequate response by police forces to survivors of SGBV and the general lack of law and order in the neighbourhoods of return.

At the national level, the Canadian-funded project will work closely with partners such as the Police Training Academy to identify and train police officers (so-called Training of Trainers – TOT) on adequately providing SGBV case management. A user-friendly GBV Case Management Training Manual, based on national and international standards, will be developed to ensure relevant skills and knowledge can be easily disseminated and transferred by the trained officials to their peers.

“This project is the first of its kind for IOM in CAR as it will provide much needed direct and tangible contributions to the active prevention of SGBV among IDPs and host populations,” according to Torsten Haschenz, the IOM CAR Chief of Mission.

Through its Community Mobilization Teams, IOM will collaborate with local grassroots organizations among others in Bangui to identify and train Community Peer Responders to increase awareness on women’s rights and SGBV.

Through the Community Peer Responders, the project will furthermore establish a community socialization campaign and awareness-raising sessions on SGBV and will foster a durable referral mechanism between community members, relevant service providers and police to better respond to the needs of SGBV survivors.

IOM will also address other community security concerns by installing solar street lights in high-risk areas and support the most vulnerable families such as female-headed households who are at particular risk of sexual violence by providing home security kits. These security kits will include solar lamps and door locks that will enhance physical security.

from IOM (http://www.iom.int/news/iom-receives-cad-1-million-canada-address-sexual-gender-based-violence-car)