Impending Crisis: CRS urges students to take action as Sudan referendum approaches

By Ransom Cozzillio
November 8, 2010

Catholic Relief Services Sudan Advocacy Ambassadors urged rally attendees to take notice of the impending crisis in Sudan. Guests were informed and cautioned about the potential price of ignoring the upcoming expiration of the cease-fire in Sudan.

The rally featured keynote speaker Maureen McCullough, CRS Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regional director, discussing both the pending issues threatening Sudan but also reflecting on her recent trip to Southern Sudan while recounting the common need for help from the people living there.

Maureen McCullough, Catholic Relief Services Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regional director discussed the current state of Sudan and the possible consequences of the Jan. 9, 2011 election -- Melissa Moore/staff photographer

“The message from the people there was, ‘Ask them not to let this go unnoticed. Ask them to become involved. Ask them to make sure their governments bring attention,’” McCullough said.

“If you ask anyone if they could stop violence before it happened, they’ll say yes. Other generations missed that opportunity in previous conflicts. This is our generation’s time to change that pattern,” Eric Gibble, senior communication and Catholic Relief Services Ambassadors President, said.

Rally patrons were cautioned about the dangers of ignoring Sudan and told how they can help by rais awareness.

“I wanted to attend because I thought it was a good way to spread awareness,” Melissa Moore, junior history, American studies and religious studies major, said after the rally. “I learned a lot and thought the panel was a great idea.”

Sudan, the largest country in Africa, now rests on the precipice of bloody turmoil and genocide. Once the host to the longest running and bloodiest single conflicts in the history of Africa, Sudan has seen relative peace and stability since signing a cease-fire agreement in 2005. Violence may again erupt between Northern and Southern Sudan on Jan. 9, 2011, when the aforementioned cease-fire expires.

“People said they didn’t know about Rwanda and that’s why nothing was done and why that massacre occurred. We do know now,” McCullough said regarding the potential upcoming conflict in Sudan.

At the expiration of this cease-fire, Southern Sudan will have the right to vote for secession from Northern Sudan. This vote, which would remove northern Sudan’s possession from the vast oil deposits beneath Southern Sudan, threatens to plunge the entire region into a bloody civil war.

McCullough explained that the international community should be alert and aware to put pressure on Northern Sudan and ensure a fair and uncontested vote should the south elect to secede.

“That is what the people of Southern Sudan are longing for [a right to vote]. They haven’t had that for a very long time, if ever,” McCullough said.  “So, what this is about, all this effort is to say, we in the international community need to ensure that there is a fair and free election in Southern Sudan.”

To that end, students gathered in Grace Hall Atrium on Thursday, Nov. 4 to rally in support of Sudan. The rally was hosted by Cabrini CRS Ambassadors and was paneled by Gibble, Jamie Tadrzynski, junior history and education major and secretary of CRS Ambassadors, and junior communication majors Jamie Santoro and Michelle Costa.

McCullough stressed that the U.S. needs to petition legislators to ensure that our government and our president are paying attention to this issue and doing everything it can to help Sudan. They must know that we want and expect full implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement, more deployed peacekeepers and a plan to stop future violence.

All of this hinges on the global community being aware and paying attention to what goes on in Sudan between now and Jan. 9.

“You are the hope. Be the voices, make change, it’s up to you.” McCullough said.

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Ransom Cozzillio

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