“‘There was nobody to help us’: Oppression by the Government of Sudan and Food Shortages in Blue Nile, Sudan”
HART visit to Blue Nile, January 2018
Terrible human suffering and destruction, currently reported in no prominent news venues.
Where is the African Union in pressuring Khartoum to end its barbaric humanitarian blockade targeting innocent civilians? How can Western governments avert their eyes from what is chronicled in this important report?
From the report:
Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) visited Blue Nile in January 2018 meeting community leaders, activists and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Acute shortages of food and no access to healthcare or education are resulting in overwhelming man-made need and suffering.
Two main issues emerged through our discussions:
- The belief that the Government of Sudan will continue military offensives against the people of Blue Nile;
- Cross-border aid is essential to the long-term survival of people in Blue Nile
This short report is unable to reveal the full extent of their concerns. We hope, however, it will provide at least some opportunity for appropriate response.
The Government of Sudan should allow cross-border aid to reach Blue Nile to enable the survival of the civilians, who are not able to trust aid sent from Khartoum (due to their experience of the Government of Sudan sustained genocidal policies perpetrated against them for so many years). The Khartoum Government’s refusal to allow this demonstrates failure to comply with the conditions required by the U.S. for the lifting of sanctions.
The UK Government should cease to adopt policies, including the promotion of trade links with the Government of Sudan, which provide credibility and support for the regime until they allow cross- border aid to reach the vulnerable civilians in the Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains; and encourage other Governments, especially the U.S., to do the same.
The International Community should acknowledge the suffering of the people of Blue Nile and the unacceptability of the Government of Sudan position–and fulfill its obligations to “provide and protect.” Urgent action is needed to provide the food and health care for these civilians which they desperately and urgently need.
Voices of the people:
Although levels of violence have decreased since the 2016 ceasefire, we heard several reports of a build-up of Government of Sudan armed forces and heavy weaponry including the purchasing of two fighter jets. The likelihood of a renewed offensive in Blue Nile has increased fears among the local people, resulting in more internal displacement and outflow of refugees.
“Although they have stopped fighting, Government of Sudan continue with their agenda. There is a build-up of troops on the border. They are building supplies of Iranian missiles in Kurmuk, Damazin and Bau and have purchased fighter jets from Russia. It is possible that money is available to them because of the lifting of sanctions.”
Benjamin Kuku, HART Partner
“2 months ago, planes were hovering overhead even during the ceasefire and causing fear amongst us.”
Abdulatif Nazer, IDP from Magouf
Local leaders in Blue Nile are deeply angered by Khartoum’s policy of ethnic cleansing of indigenous African peoples and religious cleansing of moderate Muslims (who do not support the Islamist ideology promoted by the Government of Sudan), Christians and traditional believers. They believe the current assault is part of a longer-term strategy to conquer Blue Nile, before moving on to the Nuba Mountains.
“The war in Sudan is intended to marginalise the African peoples. Fundamentalist agencies want us to become an Arabic country and have sought to impose the Arab language on all citizens – agencies such as the Islamic Centre for Islamisation are working systematically to destroy churches in Sudan and across Africa.
Our message to the faithful (fellow Muslims) in the UK and other countries is ‘Do not side with Khartoum and assist them in killing innocent people.”
Idris Abdullah Aljak, Deputy Chair of the National Liberation Council
“Government of Sudan have been killing our people for a long time because we won’t accept their Islamism and because we are black. Government of Sudan has been fighting black peoples for decades and trying to turn black Sudanese people into Arabs and Wahabis fundamental Islamism, even using force and declaring holy war for example against the Nuba people in 1991. They want Sudan to be Arab and Islamist. El Bashir said this in Gagarif in 2011, publicly. He doesn’t want diversity.
We argue aid should have no borders. We’re confused because the international community doesn’t understand the situation. How can those in Government of Sudan who are killing us send help while killing their own people? They destroy our mosques, churches, schools. Why is Government killing us? Because we’re black or different Muslims or we have our own culture? We don’t understand. In Blue Nile, there are so many Muslims who are being killed.
The international community believes the Government of Sudan and tells their story. Civilians in need should have unconditional help.”
Sodi I. Shamila, Director of Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SRRA)
Over 300,000 people have fled to neighbouring Ethiopia and South Sudan to seek refuge, leaving only 90,000 remaining in SPLA-N controlled Blue Nile state. Hundreds of thousands remain in Government controlled areas. There are reports that much of their land (especially in the Ingessena region) has been taken over by the GoS and given to its supporters – large plantations given to Arab leaders from neighbouring countries; smaller land plots given to supporters such as mercenaries.
The indigenous civilians are unable to cultivate in large areas and many have fled as IDPs to a camp in the Doro area; large numbers are held reportedly, not allowed to leave, for forced labour on the land that was once their own.
Severe Food Insecurity
There are multiple reasons for food scarcity in Blue Nile. Constant movement by civilians avoiding bombs and attacks from the GoS has prevented them from cultivating many crops and maintaining any resilience to natural disasters, including the floods in October 2017 which ruined majority of the crops they had been able to grow and which were to be used for food until the next harvest.
“The unsettlement causes many problems for looking after our children. We can’t cultivate and this causes hunger for our children.”
Raouda Yipa, IDP in Yabus
“There was a natural disaster last year which destroyed everything in 2017. We can only eat fruit and roots.”
Maki Ibrahim Abas, IDP in Yabus Bala
In Wadaka, the situation is extremely dire, with 9,000 IDPs who had recently fled from their homes in Danfona in the middle of the night. They left carrying nothing with them and no help has reached them from any NGO. They said that HART was the first NGO to reach them. They are trying to survive, scavenging for food, eating leaves and roots with no nutritional value, to ease hunger pains. They have no other supplies such as clean water or blankets.
“In Danfona, our home area, we had everything including stored food, but it was all burnt. We lost everything. On the journey, some people were injured. Many children were lost in the bush as everybody woke up in disarray and ran. Until now many children are still missing and their families fear them dead as there is no news. They took all our cattle. We fled without anything. When we came here, there was nobody to help us, no NGOs. You are the first people to visit us.”
Sumaya Baria Nur, IDP in Wadaka
“I urge the humanitarian actors and agencies to find a way to help the people here in Wadaka because their needs are urgent and they’re living in a very difficult situation. If no aid comes there will be more casualties. If this situation continues until next March there will be no people here.”
Antar Juma, Paramount Chief of the Jumjum Tribe
OCHA Blue Nile administrative map: