Editor’s note: During the course of the Winter Olympics, we are taking the opportunity to highlight human rights “Gold Medalists” working in the world’s worst conflict areas.
He stayed. As massive attacks were unleashed by Sudanese forces on the people in the Nuba Mountains just north of the border with South Sudan, Ryan Boyette stayed to be an eyewitness to the killing.
Following in the footsteps of people like Carl Wilkens, who refused to leave Rwanda when the genocide there broke out 20 years ago, Ryan did the same – remaining with those under attack to observe the conflict first hand and to work with those in the Nuba Mountains tell the story of the atrocities unfolding there to the rest of the world.
Few have heard about the Nuba Mountains. But while the fighting is not frequently reported on, it is well documented thanks to the group of local citizen journalists that make up Nuba Reports. Because of their efforts, we cannot say that we did not know.
According to the 2011 peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, two Sudanese states bordering South Sudan – South Kordofan and Blue Nile – were supposed to carry out consultations about how they would fit into a new Sudan.
But instead of consultations, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir decided to attack. Starting in 2012, indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground attacks in South Kordofan, home to the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile took an immediate toll as shown in this video featuring Ann Curry from NBC with Ryan:
The bombings also kept farmers from planting crops, creating a food crisis. And when Bashir pushed reporters and humanitarian aid agencies out of the region, Ryan decided to empower the voices of those most affected by the crisis – local citizens – to document the story of what was unfolding.
Launched with funds raised from a Kickstarter campaign, the project uses video cameras to document atrocities and starvation. The project hopes to catch the world’s attention and move people to take action. Now, Nuba Reports consists of four lead Nuban reporters along with a team of observers report attacks on the ground and record the testimonies of those caught in the crossfire.
Their reporting has uncovered hard facts: 1,371 bombs have been dropped on civilian targets since April 2012. New bombs guided by parachutes are now being used. The size of refugee camps in South Sudan have swelled. Well over a million civilians have been displaced or severely affected by violence throughout the last two years.
But their work uncovers far more than hard facts. They uncover stories of the people, including the story of Rauda Armani Kori who returns to work after being attacked and losing her arm. How Salma el-Baddry made a three-day journey to flee Sudan only to find the doors of a refugee camp closed to her and her three children. And what lives are like for those like Marriam Teia, who have sought refuge in the caves of the Nuba Mountains.
These are the stories that are well worth telling. Ones that the world needs to be paying attention to. Thanks to Nuba Reports, we can see and hear the voices on the ground. Join these human rights gold medalists in making their news, and the stories of those most affected by the violence, heard widely around the world. View the work of Nuba Reports and as they say, “make this conflict news.”