On Friday, October 19th, 2012, the United Nations (UN) announced that more than 900,000 people had been displaced or affected by fighting in two Sudanese border states, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)-North rebels began in June 2011 in the former region and in August 2011 in the latter. Accusing the current Sudanese government of marginalizing South Kordofan and other border areas, the SPLM-North started the fighting in order to overthrow the current Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir, from power. The Sudanese government retaliated by sending its military, but also by arming civilians in the affected regions to fight against the rebels. The government has also accused recently independent South Sudan of supplying weapons to and supporting the rebel group and its various allies.
Due to the resources possessed, both South Kordofan and the Blue Nile are economically important areas. The former is the only state in North Sudan producing oil, while the latter has abundant mineral reserves, which include chromium and gold. Mineral exploitation is currently considered as a viable alternative to oil production for Sudan.
Although enormous numbers of people have been affected by the current conflict and are in need of immediate assistance, the Sudanese government has blocked access of humanitarian assistance to the areas controlled by the SPLM-North, after briefly allowing the United Nations (UN) to disburse aid in August 2012 in the affected regions, based on a humanitarian plan elaborated by the UN aid agencies, African Union and Arab League. The Sudanese government justified its decision to block aid on the UN's absence, denied by the UN, from meetings during which technical details regarding aid disbursal had to be settled as well as on the rebels’ unreliability. Nevertheless, the UN aid agencies continue to negotiate with and urge the Sudanese government to allow desperately needed aid to reach the displaced people in the two provinces. If the Sudanese government persists in its refusal, another way to provide aid to populations in need, suggested in fact by the SPLM-North, would be to pass through South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Unfortunately, the UN’s pleas are not coupled with enough global public outrage at the situation or the international media attention that could put pressure on the Sudanese government to react. Only a few organizations seem to be paying close attention to the situation in Sudan. The Enough Project recently accused the Sudanese government of committing crimes against humanity and adding that the conflict in the two border areas is a repeat of Darfur without the international witnesses. Similarly, in May 2012, Human Rights Watch has also deplored the Sudanese government’s “indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians.” While more similar condemnations should be made in the international press, they should be equally focused on the abuses against civilians committed by the SPLM-North, which has had a similar role as the government in inflicting suffering on noncombatants.
After the genocide in Darfur and South Sudan's lengthy independence process, which have been in the media’s focus for a long time, there is an international media and public fatigue regarding Sudan. This is also coupled with a genuine, but unrealistic, international hope that, after South Sudan obtained its independence in July 2011, Sudan will stop facing similar problems and will start its post-conflict reconciliation process. However, this is clearly not the case. The Sudanese people suffering in South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions need international media and public attention and support as well as immediate solutions. The international community must press the Sudanese government to commence ceasefire negotiations with the SPML-North and to immediate allow aid to be delivered to the populations in need.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com