A Sudanese refugee camp inside Ethiopia

“Seven women pooled money to rent a donkey and cart, then ventured out of the refugee camp to gather firewood, hoping to sell it for cash to feed their families,” reported Alfred de Montesquiou for the Associated Press in a 2007 article. “Instead, they say, in a wooded area just a few hours walk away, they were gang-raped, beaten and robbed. Naked and devastated, they fled back to Kalma.

“‘All the time it lasted, I kept thinking: They’re killing my baby, they’re killing my baby,’ wailed Aisha, who was seven months pregnant at the time. The women have no doubt who attacked them. They say the men’s camels and their uniforms marked them as Janjaweed – the Arab militiamen accused of terrorizing the mostly black African villagers of Sudan’s Darfur region.

 “Their story, told to an Associated Press reporter and confirmed by other women and aid workers in the camp, provides a glimpse into the

hell that Darfur has become as the Arab-dominated government battles a rebellion stoked by a history of discrimination and neglect.”

Janjaweed militia members

The Janjaweed militias ran rampant over south Sudan, financed by the Muslim north, assigned a single task – to devastate the south into submission.

“Deliberate attempts to eliminate a viable Christian presence are extreme and include bombing of Sunday church services; destruction of churches, hospitals, schools, mission bases and Christian villages; massacres and mutilation; and murder of pastors and leaders,” reported the Canadian watchdog group Voice of the Martyrs. “Whole areas have been laid waste and lands seized and given to northerners.”

After confirming 2 million deaths and 4 million refugees, the UN oversaw January 2011 elections in which the non-Muslim south voted overwhelmingly for independence from the Muslim north. The country was partitioned on July 9, 2011 but violence continues – primarily in two oil-rich provinces in which the north blocked any independence voting. The United Nations reports hundreds have died and 94,000 displaced due to the violence.

On March 16, actor George Clooney earned international headlines when he and nine other activists protested outside of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., drawing international attention to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the troubled border region between Sudan and South Sudan.

Clooney meets with a survivor and her child

“Protesters who had gathered to take part in the National Day of Action for Sudan rally cheered Clooney as police fastened flexicuffs around his wrists and drove him off for processing,” reported Lucy Chumbley. “Later that afternoon, after posting and forfeiting a $100 bond, Clooney was free to go home. But for Episcopal Church of Sudan Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, who also spoke at the rally, there will be no such homecoming.

“Elnail, leader of the Diocese of Kadugli in South Kordofan, Sudan, has been in exile since last June, when Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir’s Sudan Armed Forces attacked Kadugli, looting churches, routing priests and burning All Saints Cathedral, the diocesan offices and guesthouse and Elnail’s own house to the ground.

“In April, Elnail plans to travel to Yida, a camp across the border in South Sudan where many from his diocese have taken refuge. There, he said in an interview following the rally, he hopes to help clergy set in place new strategies for helping people in times of war, ‘encouraging them, raising their morale and encouraging them to stick to the Bible.’”

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