Earlier today, South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused the Government of Sudan of bombing Gaffa, a border town in the Upper Nile state of South Sudan where nearly 400 refugees have fled to avoid violence in Blue Nile. According to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- North (SPLM-N), which has been fighting the Government of Sudan in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, the Sudanese army bombarded Gaffa for four hours on Tuesday killing at least eight refugees.
The Sudanese army began attacking Blue Nile on September 1st in order to remove the opposition party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, which is widely supported in both Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. According to the United Nations at least 6,200 civilians from Blue Nile have fled across the border into the South Sudan state of Upper Nile to border towns such as Gaffa. Another 60,000 civilians have been displaced within the state and an estimated 28,500 have fled into refugee camps in Ethiopia.
Over the weekend, the Sudanese military captured the town of Kurmuk, the last major rebel held city in the state of Blue Nile. The capture of Kurmuk does not bode well for the rest of the state which will likely fall to the Sudanese army as the rainy season comes to an end allowing troops to move more freely.
Also over the weekend, the Sudanese government announced that they have submitted a second complaint against South Sudan to the United Nations Security Council, accusing the South of supporting the SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The complaint to the Security Council and bombing of Gaffa will undoubtedly exacerbate the already high tensions between the Government of South Sudan and Khartoum and could lead to further conflict.
The bombing of the refugee area further demonstrates the critical need for the Obama Administration and international community to ramp up pressure on the Sudanese government to prevent future attacks on civilians.