“Your silence is a shame to humanity.”
(20 April 2015) A new report launched today by the International Refugee Rights Initiative and the National Human Rights Monitoring Organisation brings the voices of civilians living through the conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State to the international community.
Focusing on the devastating impact of the conflict on every aspect of people’s lives, the report highlights the extraordinary resilience and resistance of the civilian population. Inevitably, however, this resilience is also being worn away by the continuing onslaught.
Since 2012, an average of three bombs a day have been dropped indiscriminately by the government of Sudan onto civilians living in rebel held areas. With humanitarian access denied by the government and increasing numbers being displaced, people’s ability to survive grows more precarious by the day. Living with the daily threat of aerial bombardment, of government land forces breaking through and a chronic lack of food and medicine, the resilience of this population is being severely depleted. Meanwhile the international community remains, for the most part, silent.
As one interviewee said, after surviving a bomb attack: “I am sending my voice loudly to the international community and the Security Council to stop this government from killing its own civilians and to protect them. Your silence is a shame to humanity.”
Frustration with the lack of international response was tangible. Civilians caught up in this conflict are struggling to have their voices heard – or rather, heeded. Courageous local organisations and citizen journalists have been reporting on the intolerable circumstances in which civilians live in Southern Kordofan, but their reach remains limited. Meanwhile, the government of Sudan continues to block independent media and international organisations from the field in a deliberate effort to cover up the consequences of the violence. As a result, there is both insufficient awareness at the international level about what is taking place, and a failure to mobilise around what information is available.
“This report clearly demonstrates that those living in SK don’t want our pity, they want solidarity” says Dr Lucy Hovil, IRRI’s senior researcher. “Their determination to survive, against overwhelming odds, is not being even vaguely matched by support from the international community.”
The report, therefore, makes a number of recommendations, including the call for an independent commission of inquiry to verify, unequivocally, what is taking place on the ground.
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