Conflict in Sudan

Conflict in Sudan

Civilians in Sudan have faced decades of conflict and oppression at the hands of their Government.

Between Sudan’s independence in 1956 and the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, an estimated 1 – 2 million people died as a result of the Sudanese government’s policies of marginalisation and ethnic cleansing across the southern third of Sudan (now South Sudan).

President al-Bashir, who came to power in 1989, has already been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions in Darfur. He has not been brought to justice. Atrocities continue to be committed with impunity.

“This military campaign is unique, presently and historically,” says Sudan expert Eric Reeves. “Never has a recognized government and member of the United Nations, over many years, deliberately and extensively bombed, strafed, and rocketed its own citizens—with almost complete impunity.”

In 2011, al-Bashir expanded his genocidal campaign to South Kordofan and Blue Nile States. Civilians now face ground offensives and systematic aerial bombardment, causing widespread death, destruction and displacement. Around 2 million people have been affected since 2011 (UN OCHA). An estimated 1.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

They are not collateral damage of conflict, but rather the victims of a systematic campaign by the Government of Sudan to destroy them or to force them from the area. President al-Bashir has declared his intention to “force the Nuba back into the mountains and prevent them from having food, “just as we did before.”” (Tinsley 2014).

Substantial and credible reports exist which indicate the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilian areas. The Sudan Consortium have documented extensive attacks on villages which were “entirely civilian in character and can in no way be defined as legitimate military targets.”    

These attacks target institutions needed for survival, such as schools, markets, mosques, churches, water sources and health facilities and the offices of a local NGO. According to the Sudan Consortium’s August report: “The relentless bombing of civilian targets is wearing away the capacity of civilians to survive… The attacks, combined with the deaths of livestock and destruction of crops on which the population depend to survive along with the obstruction of humanitarian assistance, appears to be a deliberate tactic to force the population to flee.”

The impact of the attacks goes far beyond the immediate deaths and injuries. Fear, displacement and destruction of fields and markets are fuelling food insecurity. “The Nuba in South Kordofan are on the brink of starvation” reported Najwa Musa Kinda, director of a Nuba based NGO, in September 2014. “Owing to the constant bombardments on residential areas, as well as vast tracts of farmlands, the people have sought refuge under the ground or in the hills, where there is nothing to drink or eat.” The South Kordofan and Blue Nile Coordination Unit reported severe food insecurity in August, with many relying on wild foods for survival because they are too scared to go to their farms.

The Government has blocked humanitarian organisations from accessing the area, thus preventing aid from reaching those in need. By banning NGOs and controlling the media, the Government is effectively creating a blackout of reporting on atrocities committed in the area.

The situation is dire on all fronts: civilians are facing escalating cycles of violence, growing famine and the concerted destruction of their communities and culture; meanwhile, their suffering is lost in the information black hole created by a repressive Government, in the inattention of the international media, and in the inability of the international community to respond sufficiently.

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