July 27, 2011 (JUBA) – Alarmed by fighting in Sudan’s state of South Kordofan, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has appealed to the international community to take all necessary steps towards resolving the crisis in the region.
Over 70,000 civilians, according to humanitarian agencies, have been displaced following violence that erupted on June 5, between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) aligned to the recently independent South Sudan.
In a strongly-worded statement issued on July 25, IFHR, working in collaboration with its Sudanese counterparts, the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) and the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SUHRM) said they were deeply concerned about the serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law being perpetrated in the war torn region.
“Our organizations call upon the international community to take all necessary measures to ensure that the parties immediately cease hostilities in the region,” partly reads the group’s statement.
Fighting in the region further says the group, has escalated despite the June framework agreement reached between the warring parties on political and security arrangements, reportedly leading to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
The group relied on testimonies collected on the ground, saying areas densely populated by members of the Nuba group were reportedly subjected to aerial bombings by the northern army.
Also accused for ground attacks, alongside SAF are the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), Central Reserve Forces (CRF) and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
“These attacks include targeted summary and extrajudicial killings against perceived supporters of the SPLM-N [Sudan People Liberation Movement-Northern sector] and members of the Nuba ethnic group, arbitrary arrests and detentions, house-to-house searches, enforced disappearances, acts of torture, destruction of churches, and looting. Recent reports also indicate the existence of mass graves in Kadugli,” says the group.
Humanitarian access, it adds, remains severely circumscribed, with aid distribution reportedly restricted to national organizations, many of whom, it argues, lack capacity to reach South Kordofan’s displaced communities.
Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH’s president said, “The crimes being perpetrated since 5 June against civilians in South Kordofan may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”.
A leaked UN report earlier this month suggested that South Kordofan be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation.
“There is an urgent need for international action to ensure the parties put an immediate end to these atrocities. The international community has the duty to attain a comprehensive and sustainable solution of the conflict, which addresses both political and military matters,” she added.
According to the group, earlier reports that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – a Darfur rebel group – were fighting alongside rebels in South Kordofan could jeopardize the group’s already sporadic involvement in the Darfur peace process in Doha.
The governor of Blue Nile, Malik Agar, has warned that if the agreement signed with Khartoum earlier this month is not respected then Khartoum would have a to deal with from across Blue Nile and South Kordofan and in Darfur.
In his address during the July 9 independence occasion, Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s SPLM president pledged to play an instrumental role in resolving the outstanding issues of Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which allowed the South to secede through a referendum.
The contested border area of Abyei has not held its scheduled referendum to decide whether it will be part of North or South. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile popular consultations on the result of the CPA and defining their future relationship with Khartoum have not been started or completed respectively.
Many groups in the so-called three areas fought alongside the SPLM during the civil war but after the South’s secession are in North Sudan with the same regime they fought against in power in Khartoum.
“I want to assure the people of Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan that we have not forgotten you. When you cry, we cry. When you bleed, we bleed. I pledge to you today that we will find a just peace for all”, Kiir said, moments after he took oath as South Sudan’s first President.