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Sudan Update

June 27, 2011

3,700 people are said to have fled Jau, which lies across the border from Southern Kordofan, since the attacks (AFP/HO Stuart Price)

Over the past week violence in Sudan’s South Kordofan state has escalated. The fighting between Northern government army and  rebels from the Nuba Mountains began earlier this month and the UN has accused the Sudanese government of conducting an “intensive bombing campaign” in state, which has led to “huge suffering” for civilians.  The African Union says thousands have already been displaced due to the fighting. Both the AU and President Obama  have called for an immediate ceasefire. President Obama issued a warning to Sudan’s leaders, singling out the Khartoum government, saying it “must prevent a further escalation of this crisis by ceasing its military actions immediately, including aerial bombardments, forced displacements and campaigns of intimidation.”

Southern Sudan is set to become the world’s newest country on July 9 when it splits from the North, but South Kordofan actually lies in Northern Sudan along the north/south border. The state is predominately Nuba, a collection of black African ethnic groups, many of whom fought on the side of Southern independence. By and large they voted against Sudan’s current ruling party and are understandably worried about their rights within Sudan after the south separates. Reports say that the Northern military and militias are targeting ethnic Nubans. Already there are allegations of ethnic cleansing. Although the media has been largely cut off from  South  Kordofan and the Nuban Mountains, one western journalist who recently left the area sent his eyewitness account to the New York Times. What he stressed what that this: “This is not a north/south war. This is not an Arab/black war. This is not a Muslim/Christian war. This is a war against one of the minority groups in northern Sudan.

Search has already laid the groundwork to open its next country program in Sudan  and our Country Director, Entisar, has confirmed that all staff are safe but that it is difficult to get information from the field and there are few independent media reports.

Yesterday, on June 26, suspected armed Misseriya tribesmen attacked a train travelling through the Meiram area of Southern Kordofan. The train, travelling from Kosti to Wau, was carrying passengers returning to the south ahead of Southern Sudan’s upcoming secession. A UN spokesperson stated that one person had been killed and four others injured in the attack. Although the UN asserted that Misseriya militia conducted the raid, Mohamed Omer al-Ansary, a Misseriya tribal leader, denied responsibility for the incident, claiming the attack was carried out by rebels based in the Darfur region.

The attack is indicative of a continuing escalation in ethnic tensions along the north-south border ahead of southern independence and further localized incidents of violence appear inevitable. Armed tribesmen have frequently been utilized as proxies in Sudan in the past, including by the northern and southern administrations.

The attack by Misseriya tribesmen comes as Ethiopian peacekeeping troops finalize their preparations for deployment of the disputed Abyei region under the auspices of UNMIS. This is part of the June 13th agreement in which both northern and southern delegations agreed in principle to demilitarize Abyei. However, the north and the south remain unable to agree on post-independence arrangements, as evidenced by President Omar al-Bashir’s June 21st threat to close the oil export pipeline if the South Sudan administration did not agree to maintain oil revenue sharing arrangements.

Although the deployment of Ethiopia peacekeepers may prevent extensive violence, underlying tensions will ensure the continuation of sporadic attacks by northern and southern armed forces and tribal militia in the short-to-medium term

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 27, 2011 8:53 pm

    Really the situation on South Khordfan so worse than on media showed. according to my friend ,he told me the killing based on race and the government trying to put everyone work in military from South Khordfan under special investigation and inspection .
    thank you so much for SFCG to concern about Sudan.

    best regards

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