Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 2 May 2013

Humanitarian Rhetoric and the Fate of People of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile

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By Luka Biong Deng*

The people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile have been forgotten in the prolonged tension between Sudan and South Sudan and they sometimes feel betrayed by both South Sudan and International Community. During the two decades of civil war between the SPLM and Government of Sudan, the people of Nuba Mountains were denied humanitarian access under the Operations Life-line Sudan and paid enormous costs with their remarkable participation in the liberation struggle. With the conclusion of the CPA and unlike the people of the South, the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile did not enjoy the peace dividends as the post-conflict multi-donors trust fund was managed by the national government without their participation. Even the popular consultation that was granted to them by the CPA as fruits of their participation in the prolonged civil war was not conducted but instead they were pushed against their will into another civil war.

With the South having its independence and now in the process of normalizing its relations with Khartoum, the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue are on the run and displaced either under trees or in caves or took refuge in the South with appalling conditions. Sudan has skillfully used its diplomatic cards to ensure that South is delinked from the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Apparently, the South took serious measures of disengaging with the SPLM-North not only by dismissing those soldiers and officers from Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile who were in the SPLA but also those civilians including medical doctors and teachers who were working in the public institutions. The South with pressure of international community has become timid to show its solidarity with their comrades with whom they had fought together liberation struggle that resulted in the independence of the South. Even with thousands of people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile who took refuge in South Sudan, the South has not been able to show its solidarity by contributing with humanitarian assistance to improve the atrocious conditions of these refugees. With flow of its oil now for export through Sudan, the Government of South Sudan has a moral obligation to support the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, particularly the civilian population who are now refugees in the South or in the areas under the control of SPLM-North.

The African Union has not been able to show its credibility in ensuring the humanitarian access to the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The Tripartite Agreement between African Union, United Nation and Arab League for humanitarian assistance to the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile is being aborted by Sudan. Even the grave human rights abuses that were committed by Sudan in the Nuba Mountains have not been investigated or unanimously condemned by the international community. The next 21st Ordinary Meeting of the African Union of the Heads of States and Government scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa in May is expected to honour their commitment to the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue by endorsing the AUHIP’s Draft Proposal for Cessation of Hostilities Agreement that will facilitate humanitarian access to the affected population in these two states and to call upon Sudan and SPLM-North to sign and fully implement this proposed agreement.

With Sudan now agreeing to allow the flow of oil of the South through its territory so as to rescue its failing economy, it has started its blackmailing strategy by announcing the release of political detainees and allowing the flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Now international community is bought into this strategy and with short memory, Sudan is being seen as reforming and some even started taking initiative to work towards deference of indictment of Bashir for more two years so that he can deliver more peace in Sudan. The administration of US President Barak Obama has even extended invitation to the notorious leaders of NCP to visit Washington for bilateral meetings.

Playing to this rhythm of blackmailing strategy of Sudan, the World Food Program in Khartoum announced a major breakthrough in the humanitarian situation in Blue Nile state as Khartoum allowed the WFP to work in a limited area under control of Government of Sudan. The United States has even announced of its contribution of $150 million to help relieve food insecurity in Sudan’s war-torn Blue Nile state. The fact of the matter is that the Government of Sudan did not allow humanitarian access to areas controlled by the SPLM-North. These areas instead of receiving humanitarian assistance are being bombarded by the Sudanese military airplanes. By supporting humanitarian assistance in the government controlled areas only, the international community will contribute in forcing the people in the areas of the SPLM-North to return to the government controlled areas where they will be subjected again to more carnage.

We may need to think out of the box instead of continuing crying about humanitarian access to Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile because Sudan will not allow it to happen as it continues to refuse to sign an immediate humanitarian cessation of hostilities in accordance to the resolutions of the African Union and UN Security Council. While international community will continue to ensure humanitarian access to all the areas under both Sudan and SPLM-North, it is a high time for international community to initiate some micro-humanitarian access initiatives that would practically respond to the needs of the people in the areas under the control of the SPLM-North.

In order to reduce the exposure of women in these areas to aerial bombardment and attacks by the Sudan Armed Forces, is it possible to avail solar stoves that would reduce women risking their lives in collecting firewood? As people are struggling in the caves with darkness and snakes, will not be possible to avail solar generators or even hand crank and solar radios that will not only provide light but also news much needed by these resilient people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile? Given the inaccessibility and bad roads, will it not be possible to provide donkeys that would assist in transporting vulnerable and victims of the Sudan’s aerial bombardments to the nearest health facilities as well as encouraging trading not only with the South but also with the areas under control of Sudan. Also subsidizing affordable telephones in these areas would greatly help in connecting these people with outside world as well as reporting instantly the atrocities being committed by Sudan.

*Luka Biong Deng is Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling SPLM. He can be reached at lukabiong@kushworld.org. This article was originally published by the New Nation Newspaper



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  • 2 May 2013 11:08, by Mohammed Ali 2

    It would be far better to concentrate on feeding your own starving people who are dying of hunger...simply hunger and nothing else! You would a hero and honest man if comply with the letter of your president and return some of the loooooooooooted money of the poor,starving and marginalized pple of SS...just some of it not all.Ask your 75 fellow "patriots" to do the same ..pleeeeeeeease!

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    • 2 May 2013 11:25, by Gat Gan Kiir

      Luka, I am tired for your nonsense article which you posed daily. Stop calling yourself senior member of the SPLM, you are a senior looter of the South Sudanese resources since you are not a Southern and you have appointed as a Minister with South Sudanese ticket. Go to Abyie and contest for Sudan’s seat. Please respect the border and leave us alone with our own affairs. God take Luka, Deng Alor e

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      • 2 May 2013 13:53, by Lotodo Awino Odug

        Iam worrying about Abyei and the rests of the other disputed areas, as the normalization of ties seemed to be holding between these two nations.What will happen if Bashire renege on Abyei referandum or arbitration of which the president is banking on.Will he cut the oil flow again so as he could opt for war as the only solution?

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      • 2 May 2013 14:39, by Kedo

        Don’t talk politics. See how a South Sudanese poor woman became a millionaire by buying and selling accidented cars, Very interesting. Go to (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM) to see the various methods and companies she used (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM). A simple idea but it paid off. WAKE UP AFRICANS, don’t waste your time because life is too short

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      • 4 May 2013 09:07, by Mapuor

        Luka Biong should go back to school and study geography.Abyiei as yet is in Sudan,he is therefore a Sudanese not South Sudanese.We are neighbors and should cooperate.Mind your own problems in your country.During the war,we never blamed Uganda or Kenya for our long suffering.We first and fore most care for South Sudanese not foreigners.Get me right.Counterfeit of nationality is a crime.

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      • 4 May 2013 09:17, by Mapuor

        Luka Biong should go back to school and study geography.Abyiei as yet is in Sudan,he is therefore a Sudanese not South Sudanese.We are neighbors and should cooperate.Mind your own problems in your country.During the war,we never blamed Uganda or Kenya for our long suffering.We first and fore most care for South Sudanese not foreigners.Get me right. nationality counterfeit is a crime.

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    • 2 May 2013 14:39, by Kedo

      Don’t talk politics. See how a South Sudanese poor woman became a millionaire by buying and selling accidented cars, Very interesting. Go to (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM) to see the various methods and companies she used (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM). A simple idea but it paid off. WAKE UP AFRICANS, don’t waste your time because life is too short

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      • 2 May 2013 17:16, by julia

        Biong Deng.
        U re one of corrupt aliens Abyei boys in s.sudan whom kiir kuethpiny is talking of, mind ur Abyei problem, atleast Nuba and Blue re trying their level best to liberate thier marginalis people of the respective areas. Try to liberate ur Abyei area if u think u re marginalis by sudan. Bashier is a man of his word, he may not regret him once he retire.

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  • 3 May 2013 01:53, by Kim Deng

    Garang gave up his “New Sudan,” vision, a vision he always refers as a “vision of no-return.” This raised too many unsettling questions from his allies especially the inner circle of NDA, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile who were oblivious and betrayed at the same time by his self-observed “New Sudan,” vision until they realized that Garang shamelessly made a U-turn which left them in illusion.

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    • 3 May 2013 09:21, by Michael Angelo

      Kim Deng,
      You are a disgusted Nuer idiot I have ever known. The New Sudan vision of Garang lead to Independence of South Sudan if you don’t know that. Garang defeat fake arabs militarily and politically and earn recognition world wide as a charismatic leader. You pathetic Nuers should give up Nguendeng prophecy about Riak machar.

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  • 9 May 2013 11:19, by Mohammed Ali 2

    While the honourable Dr.Luka Biong stop his life line to Sudan and re-direct it to Bor! The galant SPLA soldiers deserted the army because they are starving and have no salaries for months!

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