A report published on 25 January by the Sudan Sentinel Project (SSP) has suggested evidence of “a pattern almost identical to the activity and disposition of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) before their invasion of Abyei in May of last year.”
The images in the report indicate that the SAF may be preparing to launch a full-scale assault against the SPLM-N (Sudan People’s Liberation Army – North) held stronghold in the Kauda Valley.
This evidence follows an upsurge in fighting in both Blue Nile and South Kordofan and a growing fear of escalating attacks targeting civilians. SSP today reported restricted access to the road leading toward South Sudan through Buram and Jau. The imagery in the new SSP report provides visual confirmation of a fortified chokepoint likely established along that road sometime after 23 November 2011. This chokepoint 28 miles north of the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan shows that an estimated 200,000 civilians in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan are cut off from receiving humanitarian aid and from fleeing to UN refugee camps in South Sudan.
According to HART’s partners in the region at least 923 bombs have been dropped on South Kordofan since June 2011. Such constant aerial bombardment has prevented farmers from cultivating their land and recent reports from Buram and Hiban localities suggest food will last the average family no more than 2-3 months if they eat only one meal per day. HART’s partners in South Kordofan are reporting possibility of severe famine.
Khartoum continues to deny access by aid organisations to victims of these offensives. On 20 January AFP reported that Sudan rejected any plan for an aid corridor to civilians in South Kordofan or Blue Nile States. It is estimated that over 400,000 have now been displaced from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile: 300,000 remain internally displaced within South Kordofan, 44,000 have fled to South Sudan and almost 40,000 have fled to Ethiopia.
On 17 January, Susan Rice, US representative to the UN stated: “If there is not a substantial new inflow of aid by March this year, the situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile will reach stage 4 of an emergency which is one step short of a full scale famine. This is exceedingly grave, and underscores the urgency of the situation.”
The British Government and the international community must secure cross-border humanitarian aid if they are to alleviate the severe threat of famine and drought.
Baroness Cox, CEO of HART, urges stronger actions from the British Government: “Unless the international community intervenes, Khartoum will believe it can continue to kill its own people with impunity. It is high time that Britain led the way by imposing targeted sanctions on the government in Khartoum.
The scale of death and suffering caused by the ruthless military offensives against the peoples in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile; the denial of access to international investigators or to the media as well as the refusal to allow access by aid organisations to victims of military offensives; and the catalogue of reports of violations of human rights, including unwarranted arrests, torture and threatened executions would seem to warrant a stronger response than continuing dialogue.
The regime in Khartoum has, for decades, continued to kill while it talks. Unless we do more than talk, we will risk appearing to be complicit with the genocide unfolding in Sudan today.”