About the Author: Major General (Ret) Scott Gration currently serves as the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan.
This week I’ll be headed out on another trip to Sudan. We made very good progress on my last trip with real steps toward unification of Darfuri armed movements and CPA implementation — in the form of a strong bilateral agreement we facilitated between the NCP and SPLM.
On this trip, we are heading to several locations within Sudan, including Juba, Boma, Darfur, and Khartoum. Before we leave, we want to give you an overview of the two major focal points of my trip: trilateral discussions in Juba and an important visit to Darfur.
First, we will travel to Juba in Southern Sudan to facilitate discussions between the SPLM, and NCP. Though we have made advances with the bilateral agreement, we still have a ways to go for full CPA implementation. In this fourth round of trilateral discussions, we will concentrate on finding a path forward on the two remaining unresolved sticking points for full CPA implementation: a decision on the use of census results and an agreement on the technical provisions regarding the 2011 referenda on Southern self-determination. These are fundamental issues that must be resolved soon.
Another focal point of our trip will be in Darfur. We will be going to the Abu Shouk Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp to assess the current humanitarian and security situation. We will also be headed back to the Zam Zam IDP camp, where we previously visited right after the March 2009 NGO expulsions. Our goal is to assess the humanitarian situation in both camps and to monitor the progress made since the NGO expulsions. It is essential that we obtain full access for humanitarian and aid groups to these camps.
We will also be engaging with women leaders in these camps about the state of gender-based violence and examining the programs that are currently addressing this dire problem. Right now, women cannot gather water or travel alone without fear, and we are resolved to do everything we can to end gender and sexual violence.
While in Darfur, we will also travel to El Fasher. There we will meet with the new UNAMID Force Commander, General Patrick Nyambumba. I am eager to discuss ways we can work together to increase UNAMID’s strength and capacity. They have a really crucial role to play in bringing peace and maintaining stability in Darfur.
Next, we’ll head to Ain Siro, Darfur, a village in north Darfur, where we will meet with leaders from civil society. It is vital that we promote a strong voice for Darfuri civil society in the peace process.
Finally, we will stop in Khartoum, where I will meet with former African heads of state Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Abdusalam Abukakar of Nigeria, and Pierre Buyoya of Burundi. The African Union’s High Panel on Darfur (AUPD), chaired by President Mbeki, and the Arab League is set to release a report to the public on 15 September 2009 on issues of justice, accountability, stability, and development in Darfur. We are anxious to find out what they have learned.
We look forward to an eventful trip, and we promise to keep you abreast of developments. As always, thank you so much for your dedication and involvement, Scott.
Stay connected: Receive Updates From Special Envoy Gration.