The Enough Project has released this policy paper in advance of the July 25, 2013 Ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will preside over the meeting to push for implementation of a peace accord signed in February 2013 by 11 African nations and four international organizations. The aims of the accord are to end the cycles of conflict and crisis in eastern Congo and to support an effective peace process in Africa's Great Lakes region.
By Sasha Lezhnev and Fidel Bafilemba | Jul 25, 2013
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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.”
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