Rights group official says civil war in South Kordofan risks becoming as
brutal as conflict in its western region of Darfur.
First Published: 2012-03-06
NAIROBI- Bloody civil war in Sudan's South Kordofan border state risks
becoming as brutal as the conflict in its western region of Darfur, a rights
group official and former UN chief in Sudan said Tuesday.
Government aircraft regularly bomb civilians in the Nuba Mountains of South
Kordofan, actions "tantamount to war crimes," said Mukesh Kapila, of the
Aegis Trust, a British-based rights group which campaigns against genocide.
"Inside the Nuba Mountains, I saw burnt villages, destroyed food stores, and
damaged schools and churches used by civilians to shelter from the
fighting," Kapila told reporters in Nairobi after returning from the
"I heard an Antonov (airplane) myself and watched women and children running
away shrieking with fear, as well as fields on fire from dropped bombs
destroying what little food crops were being planted."
Fighting in South Kordofan, a major battleground during Sudan's 1983-2005
civil war, broke out again in June as Khartoum moved to assert its authority
against gunmen formerly allied to the now independent South Sudan.
Conflict spread from South Kordofan to rebel allies in Sudan's Blue Nile
state in September, forcing over 100,000 people to flee.
"It was as the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan in
2003-04 that I saw what genocidal violence was doing in Darfur. When I asked
the world to heed my warnings, it looked away until it was too late," Kapila
"From what I have seen in the Nuba Mountains, I fear that much the same
scenario is unfolding there. Will the world listen this time around?"
The war in Darfur between non-Arab rebels and the Arab-dominated central
government erupted in 2003 and has left 300,000 dead and 2.7 million
displaced people, according to the UN. The Sudanese government speaks of
Fighters in the Nuba, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N),
have teamed up with rebels from Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
to attack government troops.
More than 360,000 people have been internally displaced or severely affected
by fighting in the two border states, the United Nations says.
With Sudan severely restricting the work of foreign relief agencies in the
war zone, international concern is mounting over malnutrition and food
shortages in the area.
Kapila also visited refugee camps into neighbouring South Sudan, where
people fled from fighting but have still not found safety.
"Even here across the border, they have been bombed by Antonovs belonging to
the Sudanese military," Kapila added.
The US has warned that up to half a million people face starvation or could
flee to southern camps if Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir does not stop
aerial bombardment and let aid agencies in before the rains start next
"After two seasons of badly disrupted agriculture, hunger is rapidly
increasing in a wider region that is seriously food insecure anyway," Kapila
"Otherwise, I fear the worst for tens of thousands of civilians, including
many women and children, who are too feeble or fearful to run for their
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Received on Tue Mar 06 2012 - 17:53:11 EST