February 15th, 2016
Sudan and South Sudan | HART Visit Report
Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) release the findings from their January visit to partners in South Sudan and in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. You can download the full report below.
- While there has been relative calm in South Kordofan for the past four months, those we interviewed within the Nuba Mountains expressed their deep concern over the build-up of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) troops in strategic positions around Kauda. They anticipate imminent attacks which are likely to target civilian infrastructure as before.
- The Government of Sudan (GoS) continues to deny humanitarian assistance to the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile). In the areas that we visited, this is likely to be particularly serious this year as the effects of El Niño resulted in a short and delayed rainy season in 2015 which had disastrous effects on the planting season and subsequent harvest. The Commissioner of Tobo County told us, “My prediction for 2015: Famine.”
- As we travelled into the Nuba Mountains, at every check point there was a gathering of displaced people travelling either to or from Yida camp in South Sudan. This constant flux of the displaced is linked to them being trapped between two conflicts. Last year, we were told, “There is nowhere to hide.” Within the Nuba Mountains, we met with internally displaced peoples (IDPs) who are living in caves in order to shelter from the aerial bombardment.
- We were able to meet with Major General Gagot, Chief of Staff of the SPLA-N. He was able to provide information on the weaponry utilised by SAF, which includes barrel bombs, cluster bombs, long-range missiles and artillery. He also provided insight into the National Dialogue process: “They want the international community to see that they are willing, but they are not trying to negotiate peace, how can it be a national dialogue when they are only negotiating between themselves?..Their priority is security and national dialogue, in which their main concern is disarming the SPLA-N. Our priority is humanitarian access and cessation of hostilities. We believe that the ceasefire should be the end of the war – cessation of hostilities and inclusive dialogue must come first.”
- Significantly, the current priority for communities within the Nuba Mountains (the same was reported for those within Blue Nile) is education. As people hope for a future of peace, they see the importance of educating the next generation who have grown up in a context of conflict: “Children are our future. We want them to grow up learning that the word can be more powerful than the weapon. We want to give them hope and ambition to do great things and bring peace to the region.” A lack of resources and teachers makes provision of education a significant challenge. HART’s partners are doing excellent work to create this opportunity for children within the Two Areas.
- HART was deeply concerned to learn that the UNHCR has stepped up its pressure to relocate refugees and IDPs from Yida camp to Ajoung Thok and Pamir (a new site now under construction). YIda has never been an officially recognised camp as, according to UN guidelines, it is situated too close to the border. These two suggested sites are not suitable due to their proximity to SAF and SPLM-IO bases making the population feel unsafe, and for physical reasons such as being situated on marshy land. Furthermore, refugees who had attempted to make the move had been forced to return to Yida as service provision in Ajoung Thok was so poor. Adequate reasons for this move have not been provided by the UNHCR, particularly as the two suggested camps for relocation are not significantly further from the border than Yida.
- Politically, the reports that we received on the overall situation in South Sudan were more positive. A peace agreement was signed in late August 2015 and negotiations are currently underway to prepare for the formation of a transitional government of national unity. Progress has been slow and some key deadlines have been missed. Salva Kiir’s presidential decree for the establishment of 28 States has been met with mixed reactions, but is seen by many as an electoral stunt for popularity which will not result in much decentralisation of power.
- There is a great deal of excellent work being conducted on the ground for purposes of reconstruction and reconciliation by creative local actors.
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You can download the report below. Printed and large copies are available on request from HART.
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