Actor George Clooney and a group of genocide scholars in the U.S. have accused Sudan of committing crimes against humanity in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions.
The actor backed his accusations by emphasizing that 26 villages were intentionally burned down during last month as part of a scorched earth policy.
The information was obtained by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), an organization co-founded by Clooney. The SSP used satellite imagery to determine that around 140 square km were burned last month and claimed that these acts were committed by the Sudan army and police, with the support of the Popular Defense Force , in order to disperse the supporters of rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). The Sudanese government has denied these allegations and claimed that it is protecting its citizens in the two regions.
Clooney has emphasized that the current situation in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile is similar to what has occurred in Darfur and added that the international community must take strong action and ensure that there are clear and serious consequences for these crimes.
The Sudanese government has also prevented international organizations from accessing South Kordofan and the Blue Nile regions and delivering assistance to those in need, leading agencies to warn of a hunger crisis as food supplies are shrinking.
During the civil war, the SPLM-N rebels fought with the southern insurgents, but were left with Sudan, when South Sudan seceded under the 2005 peace deal. The rebels claim that they are fighting to protect their ethnic minority from governmental persecution, while the Sudanese government accuses them of inciting violence and mayhem on behalf of South Sudan.
While the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile is only intensifying, the international community seems only preoccupied with reaching a resolution for the border dispute between South Sudan and Sudan over the Abyei region, largely because of its direct connection with both countries’ oil production and exports.
On Wednesday, Samuel Totten, a professor at the University of Arkansas, sent a letter signed by more than 70 scholars to the Atrocities Prevention Board, a U.S. panel created in 2011 by Obama to focus on the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. Totten’s letter emphasizes that the situation in South Kordofan is just like that in Darfur, with the difference that currently there is no international outcry over the atrocities that are being committed there and no action being taken.
The devastating effects of the fighting are clear. Some 250,000 have already fled Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Yida, South Sudan’s largest refugee camp, is experience in an influx of refugees arriving from South Kordofan, which have taken its population to almost 70,000. According to the International Rescue Committee, only in the past two weeks, more than 4,500 refugees have been registered at Yida.
John Prendergast, co-founder of the SSP, has called on the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council to pressurize Sudan into stopping the fighting in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and into finally allowing aid to be delivered.
George Clooney’s gesture to step out and publicly condemn the Sudanese government for its crimes against humanity conducted in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile will hopefully raise the international public’s awareness about the current crisis and determine individuals to take action, but also set a precedent for other international public figures to take a stance on this important matter and demand action on the part of their countries and the international community. There is a desperate need for an international acknowledgement of and reaction to the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, in order to put an end to the crimes against humanity that are currently being conducted.
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