Right along the newest border on the earth’s surface, violence is threatening the stability of the world’s newest nation.
As its July 9th independence date draws closer, South Sudan is facing some of the most alarming violence since its succession. Reports from the ground suggest that Khartoum is hard at work to claim some of the disputed resource rich land near the country’s border.
We reported earlier in May when word broke that northern troops had entered into the disputed Abeyi region. The ensuing clashes are said to have claimed 22 lives, though reports of casualties remain vague at best. According to the Agence France-Presse, 100,000 people have fled the region, and the looting has continued despite assurances from the northern army and President Omar Al-Bashir that it would stop.
The New Republic Reports:
For the past week, there have been many reports of ethnically-targeted executions (including women and children), destruction of churches, the killing of church officials, and bombings of civilian targets in the Nuba Mountains. Geographically situated within South Kordofan State, but nowhere contiguous with the area that will become South Sudan, the Nuba area is populated by an ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse people who sided with the South during the civil war and feel deeply uncomfortable with the threat of Khartoum’s Islamism and Arabism.
Today, after weeks of criticism from the international community, President Obama issued a statement calling for a ceasefire saying:
“There is no military solution. The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan must live up to their responsibilities. The government of Sudan must prevent a further escalation of this crisis by ceasing its military actions immediately, including aerial bombardments, forced displacements and campaigns of intimidation. The Sudanese people have come too far and sacrificed too much to see their dreams of a better future slip from their grasp. Now is the time for Sudanese leaders to show the courage and vision that true leadership demands. Now is the time for Sudanese leaders, north and south, to choose peace.”
The latest reports are that the fighting in Sudan is spreading further north, specifically in Unity State. Humanitarian groups are warning that as the rainy season descends, delivering aid to refugees and people in need will become increasingly difficult, as roads and airstrips will be blocked.