Khartoum

One of the best parts of my job is speaking with young people around the world when I visit our schools and hearing their
One of the best parts of my job is speaking with young people around the world when I visit our schools and hearing their
This morning, as I sipped my breakfast tea, I read about the women and children from Sudan pouring over their borders to seek safety and I was reminded of an article I read a while back about the tea ladies of Khartoum.
Given the dearth of media attention given to Darfur these days, observers could be forgiven for thinking the bombing, looting and raping is over. Yet, the aerial bombardment continues, as does the systematic rape of girls and women, and the destruction of villages seen by the regime as non-Arab.
I know I can be naïve. Western-centred too. I write and campaign on a range of issues loosely described as "womens' issues" and "lgbt issues": but my focus, mostly, is on those things that go on in the UK, then Europe and, because of family ties, Eastern Europe.
The local human rights group, Sudan Change Now, claims the riot was the result of the regime's "purposeful misinformation and propaganda and hate speech."
When the people of South Sudan went to a referendum in January last year to decide on whether to split from Sudan, the result was decisive. Nearly 99% voted in favour of independence. After decades of instability, many Southern Sudanese hoped that separation from Sudan would end the country's troubles and pave the way for democratisation and essential development.
The UN Security Council has taken its time, but at last demonstrated that it does not have to be permanently paralysed by divergent national interests on Sudan and South Sudan. Bickering while these two countries teeter on the brink of war has ceased, at least for now.
We cannot abandon the people of South Sudan at such a moment of renewed need, whatever our frustrations. They have suffered so long for their prized independence and deserve so much better. But even if the present crisis is mitigated by some kind of agreement after even worse north-south brinkmanship than we are used to, the international community will have to demand much more and better from the government in Juba, as well as pressing Khartoum. The message may be unwelcome. But accepting responsibility is part of independence too.
Appeasing the playground bully is never the answer. If there are no consequences for breaking international law and conventions, then the likes of Bashir are emboldened to carry on killing.
On Saturday the international community celebrates the birth of a nation, South Sudan. But what of the infancy and childhood of this newborn nation? We need a "well-baby" check list of policies we might consider, if we care about the health and prospects of South Sudan.