The Sudanese government’s campaign of repression against opposition groups in its Blue Nile state has developed into an armed conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and a coalition of rebel groups, the Sudan Revolutionary Forces. This report, based on visits to the front lines in central Blue Nile in late 2012 and early 2013, and details the current situation of the armed conflict there and its effect on the civilian population.
Sudan: Civilians Endure Worst of War in Blue Nile State
WASHINGTON – A new multimedia report and video with eyewitness accounts from rebel-held areas in Sudan’s Blue Nile state document how Khartoum’s campaign of indiscriminate air strikes, coupled with an escalation in ground fighting, is driving out the civilian population and causing a regional humanitarian crisis, according to the Enough Project.
“Sudan’s Bloody Periphery: The Toll on Civilians from the War in Blue Nile State”, written for the Enough Project by academic and analyst Matthew LeRiche, Ph.D., reveals that the government of Sudan’s campaign of oppression, including an ongoing blockade of humanitarian access to the region, has spurred influxes of refugees from Blue Nile to Ethiopia and South Sudan.
In March 2013, armed conflict between Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, and an alliance of rebel forces known as the Sudan Revolutionary Front, or SRF, in Blue Nile increased and intensified significantly. This fighting has resulted in significant civilian casualties and displacement, as evidence by eyewitness reports, videos of SAF Antonovs dropping bombs on villages, and a buildup of informal settlements for internally displaced persons.
A new round of SAF ground attacks during the dry season in early 2013—in addition to near-daily, indiscriminate bombardment—marked a shift in tactics, causing even more civilians to flee the violence. The violence was particularly severe against the communities of the Ingessena Hills, the home area of the former elected governor of Blue Nile, Malik Agar, who is also leader of the SRF.
Refugees continue to flee due to aerial bombing, food shortages, and disease; a large number have fled their homes in early 2013 to escape the crossfire from ground attacks and engagement between SPLM-N and SAF forces. More than 1,000 new refugees fled to South Sudan and Ethiopia, adding to the 100,000 already in the refugee camps.
The report’s companion video, written and produced by LeRiche and and directed by Viktor Pesenti for the Enough Project, includes interviews with newly displaced civilians and captures vivid imagery of the aftermath of attacks on the population. The affected populations have also suffered increased hunger and malnutrition, as agricultural productivity has been abandoned as the threat of bomber attacks prevents farmers from harvesting their crops.
Report author and independent filmmaker Matthew Leriche states:
“The people in Blue Nile are suffering routine aerial bombardment and bear the brunt of the government of Sudan’s scorched-earth tactics. They endure miserable living conditions with limited humanitarian assistance, and the conditions only continue to worsen.”
Enough Project Director of Research Mark Quarterman states:
“Indiscriminate attacks on Blue Nile state have caused a massive toll on the civilian population, and the continuation of this regional crisis carries the potential for even larger refugee and displaced populations. The systematic and deliberate targeting of civilians is an alarming pattern, and violates humanitarian law.”
The park rangers, armed with AK-47s and swapping combat stories, suddenly fell quiet. The driver pulled off the dusty, red road and plunged into the savannah, plowing through tan grass tall enough to envelop our Land Cruiser. Read More »
Contact: Jonathan Hutson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Enough Project Applauds Rice's Ascendance as National Security Adviser
WASHINGTON -- The Enough Project congratulates Ambassador Susan Rice, who assumed her new post as President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser on July 1. She faces deteriorating security situations in Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as unique opportunities for peace in those countries.
Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast said:
“Ambassador Rice may not be the most conventional of diplomats, but she is relentless and thoughtful, infusing values and American interests at the core of her unceasing efforts to make a positive difference around the world. Having a firm grasp of U.S. interests in a rapidly evolving world in crucial for a National Security Adviser. My time on the National Security Council staff with Ambassador Rice in the Clinton administration was like a seminar in U.S. interests from an elite professor. Anyone who has worked with Rice would agree that she possesses strong ethical standards and works from a set of well-developed principles that guides her actions. Issues and crises will come and go, but having a deep well of character from which to draw is crucial in the role she is assuming."
Enough Project Executive Director John C. Bradshaw said:
"The Enough Project looks forward to working with National Security Adviser Rice on atrocity prevention and in this critical moment of opportunity for U.S. policy toward Sudan, South Sudan, the Congo, and other nations in Africa's Great Lakes region. Rice has the necessary experience and commitment to continue to elevate atrocity prevention as a national security and foreign policy priority. She should work to secure a comprehensive peace deal for Sudan with the goal of democratic transformation at its core. Sustained participation by opposition political parties, the Sudan Revolutionary Front, civil society, and youth in such a deal will level the playing field for a new Sudan.
"National Security Adviser Rice can bring much needed support to a peace process in Congo where the engagement of Uganda, Rwanda, and other Great Lakes countries will be critical to ending violence that has plagued Congo's people. Working together with Secretary of State Kerry, U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region Russ Feingold, and UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region Mary Robinson, Rice should work to ensure that Rwanda does not revert back to support to armed groups in the Congo as peace efforts gain traction."
The mandate of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and South Sudan, or AUHIP,expires on July 30, 2013. The renewal process and the panel’s forthcoming “final” report—surveying its work from October 2009 to the present day—present a unique opportunity to think about the future of this long struggle for peace.