Yesterday, the United Nations issued an update on the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, reporting that over 155,000 civilians have been displaced by fighting in Blue Nile. Clashes between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) began on September 1st when the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) attacked the residence of Blue Niles governor and SPLM-N Chariman, Malik Agar. Since fighting began earlier this month, attacks and air strikes have been reported throughout the state in the towns of Ed Damazine, al-Roseris, Dindero, Ulu, Kurmuk, Geissan, Menza, Yabus, Um Darafa and Abu Gerang.
As in South Kordofan, the Sudanese government has severely restricted the ability of international humanitarian agencies to provide aid in the Blue Nile and with little pre-positioned food stocks in the state, the lack of access could potentially have a devastating effect. The SAF and allied militias have also hindered aid efforts by looting five international humanitarian organizations compounds as well as a UNICEF facility.
Last week, the Sudanese government removed Malik Agar as governor declaring him a fugitive and installed a military governor. Agar, who relocated to Kurmuk, claims that the SPLM-N control 80% of Blue Nile except for the capital of Ed Damazine and al-Roseris. While the situation in the capital of Ed Damazine has calmed and there have been reports of people beginning to return their homes, fighting continues unabated elsewhere in Blue Nile. On Monday, the Sudanese Parliament approved military action in Blue Nile rejecting any foreign interference or negotiations and on the same day, the SAF dropped four bombs near the town of Kurmuk.
The attacks in Blue Nile are the latest in a string of violence perpetrated by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his regime whose actions have displaced over half a million civilians* from Darfur, Abyei, South Kordofan, and now Blue Nile since the beginning of 2011. The figure is likely much higher since Bashir’s regime has prevented international organizations from accessing many of the conflict affected regions. Despite the rapidly mounting displacement figures, there has been little action taken by the U.S. or international community to end the atrocities being committed by the Sudanese government.