December 31, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - More than a million Sudanese currently live in constant fear of bombing and artillery attacks in the country’s rebel-held territories, an aid organisation linked to one of Sudan’s main rebel groups said in a report published on 30 December.
- Girls sit in front of their shelter in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan April 28, 2012. (Reuters)
The report, compiled by the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SRRA), paints a horrifying picture of the fate of more than one million Sudanese reportedly living in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Established in June 2011, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SRRA) serves as the humanitarian arm of the Sudan People Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), leading all humanitarian interventions in areas controlled by the rebel group.
The agency describes the report as its first definitive assessment of the situation in the ’Two Areas’ since the SPLM-N began fighting the Sudanese government in June 2011 in South Kordofan and in Blue Nile began just over two months later.
Under the 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan’s secession in July 2011, Blue Nile and South Kordofan - where many had fought with the southern rebels against the Khartoum government - were given special dispensation and their own accord within the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
However, the elements of the CPA regarding the "Two Areas" were not fully implemented before South Sudan’s secession and the Sudan Armed Forces demanded that the northern sector of the SPLM - now the SPLM-N - disarm or move south of the new international border.
Over 200,000 people have been displaced into South Sudan and Ethiopia by the conflict but many remain in the conflict-affected areas. There have been attempts by the United Nations, African Union and Arab League to negotiate between the two sides in order to allow humanitarian access to rebel-controlled areas but so far no international aid has been allowed to enter.
The report says there are 515.707 civilians who reside in the rebel controlled area in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states
79.550 IDPs are in the rebel territory in Blue Nile where the total of civilians is 98.003 people,. In South Kordofan the number of IDPs in the SPLM-N areas reached 436.157 people while the total of civilians in its controlled zones is 995.200.
The report, according to Philip Neroun, the Director of the SRRA seeks to give a better understanding of the conflict in the Two Areas.
“The ultimate objective of this report is to generate awareness and responses within the national, regional and international communities about the dire humanitarian situation to ensure that humanitarian access to the ’Two Areas’ is granted by the Government of Sudan with immediate effect,” Neroun told Sudan Tribune by phone from Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
“The Government of Sudan is impeding humanitarian access to its citizens in need. And many lives are at risk”, he added.
In Blue Nile’s Wadaka payam [district], the reports claims that about 1,205 people, half of them children, have starved to death.
According to the report, 959 bombs were reportedly dropped on Southern Kordofan, between June and the end of December 201, killing about 101 civilians and injuring 189 persons, the majority of whom were children and women.
“This record is just a partial glimpse of the overall picture across Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states,” the report adds.
Meanwhile, the rebel-linked-agency says it is “deeply” concerned about the suffering of the citizens who are the main victims of the conflict and their immediate humanitarian needs, as well as the long-term disruption of their socio-economic development.
The health sector, for instance, reportedly faces serious challenges, with the report citing a serious shortages of drugs and medical supplies, lack of immunization programmes, few qualified health cadres, especially medical doctors and poor health information and surveillance systems.
The Sudanese government has, on several occasions, consistently refused to allow aid agencies access to civilians in rebel-held areas, while talks mediated by the African Union have failed to persuade his administration. Khartoum believes as in previous Sudanese conflicts aid and humanitarian assistance will also be used to provide the rebels with supplies.
In February 2012, the United Nations, the African Union and the League of Arab states presented a tripartite proposal for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to war-affected civilians in the two border states.
However, while the SPLM-N accepted the proposal, without preconditions, the Sudanese government rejected the decision, giving several preconditions in order for the proposal to be realised.
In April 2012, however, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) called for the parties to accept the proposal and enter negotiations under meditation Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - an East African regional body - based on the Framework Agreement agreed in August 2011.
Khartoum ripped up the framework deal that could have stopped the conflict spreading to Blue Nile and perhaps paved the way for the resolution of the fighting South Kordofan. However, hardliners in Khartoum were unhappy that the Framework Agreement recognised the SPLM-N as a legitimate political party.
The SPLM-N, in November 2011, formed a coalition with the three main Darfur rebel groups and have since maintained that they will only negotiate with the government as a bloc rather than as individual movements.
However, in May 2012 the UN Security Council (UNSC) endorsed the African Union Peace and Security Council’s proposal that the August 2011 Framework Agreement should form the basis of resolving the conflict and providing humanitarian assistance to those in SPLM-N areas.
The Sudanese government indicated its acceptance of the tripartite proposal in June, five months after the SPLM-N but still the agreement has not been implemented much to the ire of the movement’s leadership, who blame Khartoum for creating a deliberate impasse.
“The international community must urgently answer the scale of the suffering to ensure the faithful implementation of the Tripartite Initiative and the UN Security Council Resolution 2046 by the Government of Sudan,” said the SRRA Director.
An estimated 520,000 people, according to a recent UN report, have been displaced or severely affected by conflict in South Kordofan besides some 205,000 refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile, who are now in South Sudan and Ethiopia.