Nuba people devastated as South Kordofan bombings continue

Kadugli, Sudan
August 2, 2011 (Channel 16)

Anonymous Author. Views expressed are the author’s own

For almost two months, the Delami County in South Kordofan State has been undergoing indiscriminate bombardment from the northern Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). The aerial bombardments have killed many civilians although it’s difficult to estimate and thousands are moving up into the mountains to seek safety under caves.

There has always been conflict over the South Kordofan State where most of the people supported South Sudan to rebel against Khartoum.  However the current round of bombings started on June 5 between the Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Kadugli and other towns in Southern Kordofan.  The SAF has targeted the Nuba population in this state that lies on the border with newly created South Sudan.

I visited some of the sites and saw many obliterated bodies of Nuba people by the Antonov bombings. There is no presence of international organizations here and many worry the bombings won’t stop anytime soon or that the Sudan government will be held accountable.

A few days ago I met a SPLA soldier. Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) has remained a party in north Sudan and many people in the Nuba Mountains support its quest for equal treatment and good governance. The soldier was only a student a few months ago but he, like many young men here has taken on arms to confront the SAF. He said how he had gone back to school after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war and made it to secondary school in Southern Kordofan.  On 12 June he went to join the army after the bombings started.

“We want to fight the government because of injustice, inequality. With marginalization we have a long experience, we shall fight till we get our rights then we go back to studies.”

However Bashir’s forces have relied on aerial indiscriminate bombing in a bid to subdue the SPLM and this has led to loss of many civilian lives.

But the soldier said “I will continue with a pen in the right hand and the gun in the left hand to make sure the discrimination ends.”

Most people of Delami County are now living in caves because of the air force bombardment. Many villages are empty. No school is running since June and the bombs have also targeted markets. I visited one of the caves and found families packed in there, people don’t have much to wear or even cover themselves from the cold. In these caves, many remain hungry as many food stores have been attacked since SAF took control of the towns.

According to the local NGOs thousands are in urgent need of assistance in this northern part of South Kordofan. Many NGOs have no access to areas like El Obied, Kosti, Alabashiya because of insecurity or restriction by the government. Some 7,000 people have been displaced in Delami county alone, without food and shelter.

Earlier I met a 32 years old man who worked as a police officer before the fighting. He was brought to Umserdiba during the election of the Southern Kordofan State governor and legislative assembly held in May 2011.Some weeks later the conflict broke out and he couldn’t go back home.

I met him at Mother of Mercy Hospital he was wounded in Kauda near the Nuba Relief Rehabilitation Development Organisation (NRRDO) compound. He told me had been resting under a tree chatting with some people before an Antonov came. It bombed the first time and the explosion killed one woman and her child. He thought he had escaped but the Antonov turned around and came back, the second explosion wounded his right leg and hip as he tried to run to take refugee behind a tree.

He was now in hospital alone, and couldn’t contact his home because all communication channels are cut off in many areas that are under the control of SPLA.  I asked him about his family and tears began rolling down his face before saying he has two wives and 3 kids.

“I was not able to be educated and now I am separated from my family, I am worried my daughter will be like me,” said the former police officer. “It is three months with no information. I don’t know where are they are. Last two weeks I heard the SPLA clashed with army in my village. I am not sure if they are in good health or not,” he said.

This week Human Right Watch called on the  United Nations Security Council  to  take immediate steps to ensure “international monitoring in Southern Kordofan” as the massive human rights violations by Sudanese forces continue to be reported.

There have been reports that SAF has looted homes and churches, and arrested and killed civilians suspected of links to the SPLM; the southern political party that now rules South Sudan.

“Tens of thousands of civilians in Southern Kordofan are in grave danger, and  no one is on the ground to report on what is happening, much less do anything about it,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “An international presence in Southern Kordofan is urgently needed to prevent further atrocities.”

Human Rights Watch said  “access to Southern Kordofan remains difficult, as Sudan is blocking road and air access to affected populations. In addition, its bombing campaign has destroyed or damaged airstrips, preventing humanitarian aid from reaching displaced people in the Nuba Mountains.”


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