Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing to address the ongoing insecurity and developing humanitarian crisis in Sudan and South Sudan. The witnesses for the hearing included Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Princeton Lyman, the director of the Sudan Program at the United States Institute of Peace Jonathan Temin, Assistant Administrator for the US Agency for International Development Nancy Lindborg, as well as the co-founders of the Satellite Sentinel Project John Prendergast and George Clooney.
The witnesses and committee members were all concerned about four primary issues: the deteriorating relations between Sudan and South Sudan; aerial attacks in South Kordofan and Blue Nile; the Sudanese government’s use of starvation as a weapon of war; and what the US could do to better address each of these problems.
Ambassador Lyman focused his comments to the committee on the future of negotiations regarding oil and border disputes between Sudan and South Sudan noting that in order to move forward, both governments must recognize that each has tried to destabilize the other and that in both are weakened in the process.
George Clooney and John Prendergast showed a video of their recent trip to the Nuba Mountains in Sudan where the Bashir government is conducting a brutal aerial bombardment campaign against citizens, forcing them into hiding. George Clooney made one of the strongest statements of the afternoon against the Bashir government by stating that “They are proving themselves to be the greatest war criminals of this century, by far.”
Weighing most heavily on everyone’s mind was the continued and deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid to citizens by the Sudanese government. Administrator Lindborg noted that up to 250,000 people face a serious humanitarian emergency by April if the violence and the blockage of assistance continue.
Ambassador Lyman spoke of a joint-agreement, submitted to the Sudanese government, by the United Nations, African Union, and Arab League to allow international humanitarian access. He said that:
Should Khartoum agree to allow access to international humanitarian organizations across the lines of fighting, there must be swift progress on implementation. If necessary, we will examine ways to provide indirect support to Sudanese humanitarian actors to reach the most vulnerable. We have monitoring and accountability tools to make sure that civilians would be the beneficiaries of these activities. Nevertheless, an international program, as proposed by the UN and its partners, is the best means to reach the most people and we continue to urge the government to approve it.
Sudan’s use of starvation as a weapon of war must be stopped. Help us sound the alarm and draw attention to this humanitarian emergency by joining our Day of Action on March 16th.
Also learn more about the Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4169) recently introduced in the House of Representatives to address the bombing currently underway in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Abyei and the blockage of life-sustaining food and assistance to hundreds of thousands of Sudanese.