Story by Caroline Boschetto | firstname.lastname@example.org
For half a decade, the Sudanese government has waged a violent war against its own citizens with bombings that target the southern provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. These government bombings have caused widespread destruction, death, and displacement, according to Nuba Reports, a Sudan-based news source focused on the conflict. Affected citizens were hopeful that negotiations between the government and the rebel group in November 2015 would lead to peace, but disputes over access to humanitarian aid ended the talks in failure.
After South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, arguments over border demarcation, oil, and differing cultures and religions led Sudan’s government to marginalize the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. That same year, after a state-level election that the southern states alleged was rigged, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) formed and took up arms against the government.
Since then, the government has retaliated with indiscriminate attacks on those southern regions, dropping over 4,000 bombs. These strikes have killed civilians and decimated schools, churches, NGO facilities, hospitals, farms, and homes. Innocent men, women, and children have experienced full-body burns and suffering for days before dying. Shrapnel bombs have also destroyed civilians’ limbs and shredded their organs, resulting in countless deaths and constant fear in the region. Additionally, the destruction of healthcare and farming infrastructure has threatened lives through illness and malnutrition. As of 2015, approximately 1.7 million people, or half of the two states’ population, had been forced to flee.
Roughly 70,000 of those citizens fled to Yida, a refugee camp in South Sudan, according to Nuba Reports. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), however, has not recognized this camp as legitimate, and hopes to relocate the refugees to two other camps by June. According to Nuba Reports, the people who have created communities, schools, and markets in Yida are unhappy about this plan, which will force them to uproot their lives once again.
Dr. Tom Catena from New York is the only certified surgeon serving about 750,000 people in the Nuba Mountains, a targeted region in South Kordofan.
“The human rights situation of course is very poor,” Catena said in an email interview with The Global Journal. “The [Sudanese] government has bombed and shelled civilian targets in rebel held areas. They have not allowed humanitarian access into the… Nuba Mountains.”
As the peace talks held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia neared, Catena was optimistic, yet wary of the outcome.
“We hope something good will come out of these talks but no one trusts the [Sudanese] government as they tend to break every agreement they’ve made,” Catena said. “We’re hoping that at least they can agree on a ceasefire and the allowing in of humanitarian aid. The eventual hope is that the Nuba Mountains will be a semi autonomous zone with their own legislature and government.”
Despite Catena’s optimism, the negotiations, the 10th round since the start of the conflict, were largely unsuccessful because of disagreements over the distribution of aid. The SPLM-N believed the supply of humanitarian aid should be the first order of business, and that it should be allowed to enter from South Sudan or Ethiopia. The government delegation, however, wanted a political agreement to come first, and insisted that government forces enter the affected regions to oversee the distribution of aid, according to the Sudan Tribune.
The enemy groups declared an informal ceasefire in September 2015. According to Nuba Reports, however, Sudan’s government began amassing troops around rebel-controlled regions again in late January. This indicates that these human rights violations and crimes against humanity could resume in a matter of weeks. Until the Sudanese government and the rebels form a successful peace agreement or there is international intervention, violence and suffering among southern Sudan’s population will likely persist.
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Catena, Tom. E-mail message to author. November 16, 2015.
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