Demand that the Obama administration speak about the fate of the Nuba Mountains (South Kordofan) and Blue Nile: Silence is acquiescence

By Eric Reeves

Will the Obama Administration declare its position on Khartoum’s policy of deliberate starvation in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile?

This question that must be forced upon President Obama and his foreign policy team, in all forums:

"Are you prepared to continue deferring to the Khartoum regime’s specious claims of national sovereignty while hundreds of thousands of people are starving to death in South Kordofan and Blue Nile?  This vast assault on human lives and livelihoods is now clearly deliberate and relentless.  What will you do, Mr. Obama, to stop the dying—dying that is already well begun and poised to accelerate dramatically in coming months?"

Brief background:

November 29, 2012 (SSNA) — On February 2, 2011 the United Nations, the African Union, and the Arab League proposed a "tripartite agreement" on humanitarian access to civilians caught in rebel-held areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.  A week later, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North accepted the agreement without qualification.  Months passed and Khartoum did not respond.  There have been feints of a response by the regime—in June and then again in August—but the most recent authoritative voices out of Khartoum hardly surprise when they declare that the agreement is "invalid" because it has "expired"—"expired" even though it was never in fact accepted by Khartoum (see below). 

Ten months after the initial proposal for humanitarian access to many hundreds of thousands of highly distressed civilians in the two border areas, there is no still no humanitarian access, and relief workers are preparing for a new onslaught of refugees in South Sudan.  Some 250,000 have already fled Blue Nile and South Kordofan.  Small quantities of surreptitious aid provided by the U.S. have been welcomed by people of the Nuba (none reached the people of Blue Nile); but it provided only a very small fraction of what is needed.  The dry season has begun and it is once again possible to move food, medicine and other supplies on the ground; but without secure access, this improvement in transport conditions is meaningless.

Given the grim timetable of refusal on Khartoum’s part, the question about humanitarian access is squarely and urgently before the Obama administration.  It is time to demand answers: silence is acquiescence. 


[The assessment from Khartoum is shameless medacity: state-controlled media report, Sudan Vision, November 12, 2012

“Sudanese government declared a new initiative to deliver the humanitarian assistance to the affected citizens in the rebel-controlled areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan States, following the elapse of the tripartite initiative which became invalid after November 3rd, 2012. HAC Commissioner, Suleiman Abdul Rahman said that the new initiative will provide the humanitarian and medical assistance, adding that the initiative represents a favourable opportunity for the participation of international and regional organization to distribute the humanitarian assistance. Abdul Rahman added that the tripartite initiative did not achieve its objectives as admitted by the partners (UN, AU, AL). The partners emphasized that they faced harassment from the so-called SPLM-N which set deplorable conditions.” ]


Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade. He is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide. His new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012) is available in eBook format, at no cost.

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