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Another Darfur?

 INSP 01 July 2019

The peaceful referendum leading up to independence was no predictor for the conflict that has started again in the past weeks. According to the United Nations, more than 360,000 people have been displaced in Sudan over the past 6 months, and more than half were displaced in the past month alone. The heaviest fighting has been concentrated in the three oil-rich border areas that have been disputed ever since the signing of the north/south peace agreement in 2005: Abyei, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. (548 Words) - By Danielle Batist


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Petrol seller during the fuel shortages in Juba, 9 June. Photo: Simon Murphy

Across the border states, the northern government has deployed its SAF armed forces. On May 21, troops entered Abyei in what they say was a response to an attack by the South's former rebel group SPLA against a SAF convoy, in which 22 SAF soldiers were killed. Abyei was a key battleground during the civil war and both sides see it as a symbolic emblem. Most of its citizens want to be part of the south, but they were excluded to vote in the January referendum.

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir threatened to block a pipeline that exports oil from the south to the harbour in the north. The soon to-be autonomous south relies on oil for 99 per cent of its revenues but is dependent on a pipeline in the north for export. Khartoum demands that the south continues to share revenues or pays a transit fee on every barrel they export. South Sudan currently splits oil revenues equally with the north- despite producing 80 per cent of output. Abyei is the source of 75 per cent of the country's 500,000 barrels a day oil production.

Aid workers in Southern Kordofan in the mean time report ethnically targeted human destruction, which is largely directed at the African peoples of the Nuba Mountains. Eyewitnesses from local churches and charity groups report intensifying violence and warn for a "new Darfur," when more than 200,000 people in western Sudan were systematically killed by Khartoum's forces and at least 2 million made homeless. As many as 75,000 people have fled the fighting in Southern Kordofan and the number is likely to grow in the hundreds of thousands. The UN reports that "the security situation continues to deteriorate". International NGOs operating in the area are evacuating their staff as a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. Up to 10,000 people have sought refuge at the UNMIS compound in the state capital Kadugli. US representative to the UN Security Council Susan Rice said on June 20th: "The situation in Sudan poses an urgent threat to the safety and security of the Sudanese people as well as a threat to international peace and security.", The violence broke out early June when the government started to disarm rebels. Although the province will remain part of the north, it is home to many pro-south communities, especially in the Nuba Mountains, some of whom fought with SPLA rebels during the war. Now they find themselves on the wrong side of the border from former comrades, and have resisted surrendering weapons to the northern forces they see as hostile. Khartoum has said it will not tolerate the existence of two armies within its borders. Nuba activists emphasise this is not a north-south conflict but a battle to protect basic rights and their way of life.

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