Sudan: Challenges Ahead

An internationally brokered peace treaty in 2005 ended decades of civil war between the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum and the black African southern region. The accord called for national elections, now set for this April, and for a referendum in the south, next January, on secession. At issue are some of the world's richest oil reserves, which straddle the border between north and south and the dividing line between Muslim and non-Muslim regions of the continent.

The international community has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Sudan over the past decade, brokering the north-south peace treaty and dispatching one of the largest United Nations peacekeeping forces. Results have been mixed at best, in controlling violence in the Sudan's Darfur region and also in promoting north/south reconciliation for the country as a whole. A further complication has been the indictment on war-crimes charges of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, and the refusal of most African countries to join in bringing Bashir to justice.

The Pulitzer Center is collaborating with PBS NewsHour and other news outlets to focus sustained public attention on Sudan, amid increasing concern about renewed north-south war. These reports assess efforts to limit elections-related violence, examine regional flashpoints, and investigate the role of international organizations and the United Nations. The reports also address more immediate challenges, among them a renewed threat of hunger in some of the poorest, most isolated sectors of southern Sudan.

In South Sudan, Vote to Secede Looms

As Sudan gears up for Sunday's national elections, another landmark vote is on the horizon -- a referendum in January that will determine whether the south splits from the north.

Like the elections, the referendum is a key requirement of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, intended to give southerners a chance to decide if they will remain in a unity government with the north, or become an independent country.

But several major related issues are still up in the air, including where the north-south border actually is.

"Voices From Abyei, Sudan"

The village of Abyei had a population of about 30,000 when, in May 2008, violence broke out between government forces from the north and soldiers from the south, leveling the town and forcing the residents to flee to surrounding areas.

In the months since, the residents have been gradually moving back and rebuilding their lives. We spoke with some of the villagers and recorded their thoughts in the following Flipcam videos.

Sudanese Youth Describes Life in Contested Town

In May 2008, long-simmering tensions between the Sudan People's Liberation Army of the south and government forces from the north boiled over into violent clashes in the town of Abyei, causing an estimated 25,000 people to flee their homes.

They are gradually moving back to Abyei, located along the north-south border of Sudan. And efforts are underway to rebuild the town, including repairing roads and replacing the mud and thatched roof homes, known as tukuls. But still there are large swaths of barren land.

Guinea Worm on Brink of Eradication in Sudan

Decades of civil war in southern Sudan has have hindered the population's access to clean water and allowed some parasites to persist. But international efforts have made headway on one particular scourge: the guinea worm. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Sudan.

The piece aired on PBS NewsHour April 7, 2010.