Nicholas Boland-Cairney, Blog Writer
Sudan has certainly been no stranger to conflict in recent years. While the separation of South Sudan has been touted as a relative success in Sudan’s lengthy history of civil disputes, there are still multiple regions where violent conflict is all too common. In late March, it appeared as though progress may have been on the horizon. A series of meetings held in Ethiopia between the Sudanese government and rebels from the Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions produced a “roadmap” peace agreement. The agreement was promised by Thabo Mbeki, former South African President and Chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP), as a way to restore peace to the region. However, rebel groups refrained from signing onto the agreement, and some have even outright rejected it. For now it appears that bloodshed will continue – and things may only get worse.
South Sudan, especially the north-western states of Northern Bahr E Ghazal and Warrap, is currently in a state of severe food insecurity caused by ongoing conflict and deteriorating economic conditions. While South Sudan is indeed a separate country, the problem for Sudan centres around civilians moving north into Sudan in search of refuge. Tens of thousands have already been driven from their homes, many with no identification documents and in dire need of humanitarian assistance, and far more are expected. FEWS NET, a global monitoring body for famines, has officially classified 2.8 million people across South Sudan as facing ‘crisis’ or ’emergency’ food insecurity. UN food experts have also drawn attention to the “alarming” levels of starvation in South Sudan due to record high food prices after two years of civil war. These experts also expressed concern over the outlook on the upcoming agricultural season, as fighting that has affected farming activities appears to be far from subsiding.
To say that Sudan’s outlook for 2016 is bleak would certainly be an understatement. Despite the effort put forward in the latest round of peace talks, clashes between government forces and rebels shows no signs of stopping. Recently, the Nuba Mountains region witnessed a new round of attacks, claiming the lives of 17 government soldiers. On March 28th, the Sudanese Army recaptured positions in South Kordofan after launching six simultaneous assaults on key locations. A spokesperson for the Sudanese army attributed the decision to move on rebel positions as a result of the rebel’s rejection of the AUHIP-mediated roadmap agreement. Did the rebels have good reason to reject this particular peace agreement? That is certainly a topic worth investigating. What is obvious, however, is that the country cannot continue down its current trajectory, especially considering the ongoing influx of refugees from South Sudan. As the UNHCR has highlighted, specifically with regards to the 2016 South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan, resources are an issue given the ongoing civil crisis. This all begs the question – how disastrous does the situation on the ground have to be for sensibility to finally kick in?
STAND Canada wants the Government of Canada to revise its refugee loan program. Learn more by reading our recent Action Alert.