Smoke rise from burnt homes in Abyei town, in this handout photo released by the United Nations Mission in Sudan May 23, 2011. Credits: REUTERS/Stuart Price courtesy of AlertNet.org

Smoke rise from burnt homes in Abyei town, in this handout photo released by the United Nations Mission in Sudan May 23, 2011.
Credits: REUTERS/Stuart Price courtesy of AlertNet.org

Caritas Internationalis says separate conflicts in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and Abyei risks spiralling into a full-blown major humanitarian emergency.

A humanitarian crisis is already taking place in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan region, which includes the Nuba Mountains.

Clashes between government troops and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM / North) rebel fighters in Southern Kordofan have forced nearly 113,000 people from their homes. These people are desperately in need of food, shelter and healthcare. Many have fled to nearby towns and villages and others are hiding in the mountains. Insecurity and restrictions on access is preventing international humanitarian agencies from working in the area.

Property has been set on fire, aid offices vandalized and churches destroyed. Reports of sectarian and arbitrary killing of civilians need to be properly investigated. Heavy military confrontations including aerial bombardment of populated areas are killing and injuring civilians. All sides are obliged under the Geneva Conventions to protect civilians and civilian assets.

Caritas fears that unless a ceasefire is agreed quickly in Southern Kordofan, the conflict could spread to Blue Nile State and other areas in Sudan, and even across into South Sudan which becomes independent from the north in July.

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy said, “The Government of Sudan and representatives of the Nuba people must negotiate a durable peace. Continuing fighting will have horrific consequences for the people of Southern Kordofan, and threatens to undermine the fragile peace throughout the rest of Sudan.

“There must be an immediate ceasefire in Southern Kordofan to allow unobstructed humanitarian access and the flow of humanitarian supplies to those in need, and guarantees for the safety and resettlement for those displaced.

“The international community must deploy every diplomatic resource, employ every incentive, and apply every consequence necessary to protect the people of Southern Kordofan, and ensure the Government of Sudan and leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement / North (SPLM/N) end the fighting.” Caritas calls on all parties:

  • To stop the violence immediately, declare a ceasefire, and negotiate a durable peace
  • To protect civilians and ensure they are safe in accordance with international humanitarian law
  • To allow humanitarians access to the civilian population caught in the conflict.
  • To see that all atrocities and human rights abuses are thoroughly investigated.

Please contact Patrick Nicholson at nicholson@caritas.va or call 0039 334 3590700