For more than 5 years, Sudan's dictatorship has refused to allow official cross-border aid deliveries into the Nuba Mountains (South Kordofan) and Blue Nile. Even as it has kept aid agencies from reaching hundreds of thousands of civilians with humanitarian relief, the Bashir regime has relentlessly bombed civilian property, burnt farmland and food stores, and targeted defenseless medical facilities with warplanes.
All of these actions are part of a well-documented strategy by the Sudanese government to deliberately harm and kill civilians in the Two Areas.
Photo: Children draw water from a clean well in Yida Refugee Camp in May 2016, where 60,000 refugees from the Nuba Mountains now live. Several weeks earlier, Sudanese government forces spent an entire week destroying civilian water points just like this one in an area called Karkaria in the Nuba Mountains.
If there is anything more shocking than the Bashir regime's strategy of trying to kill civilians en masse by blocking humanitarian relief and destroying the people's ability to provide for themselves, it is how brazenly regime officials lie about every aspect of their policies and actions. Earlier today, the Sudan Tribune published the following statement by Presidential Assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid about the SPLM-N, which is the anti-government armed force in the Two Areas:
"The demand of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- North (SPLM-N) for the humanitarian access across the border is a call for the continuation of war and the dismantlement of Sudan. Also, it is an attempt to force the government to concede the sovereignty of the Two Areas in favour of the SPLM-N."
There's a major problem with statements like these that are frequently thrown out by government officials: all the evidence actually points in the other direction.
During the last major round of negotiations, the SPLM-N made a number of concessions to the government in an attempt to get humanitarian aid to civilians in need. The SPLM-N agreed to having 80% of humanitarian aid come through government lines within Sudan and 20% of aid to come across the border from Ethiopia. On August 14, the Sudanese regime abruptly reversed its positions and walked out of the talks because this would cripple the government's ability to continue starving civilians and making them susceptible to preventable diseases. Few Sudan observers were suprised by this since starvation warfare has been a key component of government war crimes for over two decades.
There's also a real concern that if a majority of relief came through regime hands, many civilians would refuse to accept it due to the soaring unpopularity of the Bashir regime in the two areas. Government forces destroyed vaccines meant for young children in August of 2011 shortly after the war began and, based on how the government targets farmland and medical facilities in the Nuba Mountains, it is to be expected that any relief from government areas into SPLM-N areas will be routinely blocked, harassed, looted, and destroyed by the dictatorship.
It's not surprising that the Nuba people and their leaders want official humanitarian relief to come from outside of Sudan. Placing their lives in the hands of the very people who are trying to kill them is exactly what the Bashir regime wants so that it can inflict even further damage on innocent civilians.
The people of Sudan are overcoming two of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: war and genocide. Operation Broken Silence is working to accelerate their ability to generate lasting change through storytelling, education, advocacy, and emergency relief programs.
With the peace process not making any progress, it's important for us to continue assisting the Sudanese directly. Here's 3 ways you can help:
1. Support The Yida Photography Exhibit. In May of 2016, Operation Broken Silence commissioned talented photographer Katie Barber to document life in Yida Refugee Camp as part of our organization’s efforts to use media to get people involved with issues in Sudan. Katie captured over 4,000 photos and several hundred of them have been pre-selected for a photography exhibit we're raising funds to build. LEARN MORE »
2. Fundraise For Our Emergency Relief Program. Since 2012, Operation Broken Silence has been funding emergency relief missions into an isolated corner of the Nuba Mountains that is off the beaten path of what few emergency relief efforts exist. You can start an online fudnraisinge page to support these efforts. START FUNDRAISING »
3. Give Monthly. You can pitch in a couple of bucks each month to our emergency relief program by joining Civilian Protector, our monthly giving program that brings sustainability to our programs. We also give you some cool perks for joining. START GIVING MONTHLY »