Sudan's Future Optimistic Despite Numerous Obstacles

 Rabbi David Saperstein: "It is with cautious optimism that we look towards the future for a peaceful Sudan; A Sudan with out destruction, rape, and death."

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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 8th, 2011 -- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, commented yesterday on the conclusion of voting in the referendum in Sudan.

"Today, Southern Sudan has finished counting the votes in the referendum for their independence. It is with cautious optimism that we look towards the future for a peaceful Sudan; a Sudan with out destruction, rape, and death. The people of Sudan have endured some of the world's most horrendous violence, including a two decade long horrendous brutal civil war in the South and the ethnic cleansing in Darfur and it is time for us to work together to bring stability to this region of Africa. We have seen the voting occur relatively smoothly and fair and that the sixty percent threshold has been succeeded. Yet, we do mourn the loss of life over the border attacks that have occurred during this process."


This referendum, by the semi-autonomous people of southern Sudan, on whether or not to split from the north and become an independent country came from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the second Sudanese civil war after more than 20 years of fighting thanks to strong U.S. presence. The chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, which organized the vote and includes members from both sides, said 98.83% have voted for separation.


Rabbi Saperstein continued, "We thank the Bush Administration for helping to set this process in place and the Obama Administration for its commitment to this process and for providing the administrative and diplomatic resources that were needed. We look forward to the administrations continued commitment to ensuring a peaceful transition and resolution of the outstanding issues in the coming months and years.


"As we look with gradual optimism at these developments in the south, we must not forget about the ethnic cleansing in Darfur that continues, an estimated 2.7 million Darfuri civilians are still living in IDP camps and an additional 300,000 were displaced in 2010 alone. There are also ongoing reports of blocked humanitarian aid and ongoing human rights abuses. We call for a continuation of the peace talks and a greater international pressure to end the atrocities that continue."