How much do the people of Sudan have to suffer before the men with guns decide that enough is enough? The people have lived through civil wars since before independence in 1956 and, in the last war, saw over 2 million of their fellow citizens killed. With less than one month to go until independence for Southern Sudan, the people of Sudan on both sides of the lines are losing family and friends to senseless violence.
The week before last I visited Agok on the border of Abyei. I saw thousands of people who had fled their homes after fighting broke out in Abyei. I saw UN and NGO workers trying to provide for the displaced while still coping with the annual ‘hunger gap’ that afflicts the area. Since then, fighting has led to further displacement of people there and in Southern Kordofan. This week I intend to visit other areas in the northern states of Southern Sudan to see for myself what the situation there is.
My colleague Nick Kay has blogged about the prospects for peace in Sudan. I join him in calling for the fighting to stop. The UK and the rest of the international community stand ready to help the AU HIP and UN mediation efforts and the two Sudanese states-to-be to develop into viable countries. But that can’t happen while the armed forces try to create facts on the ground and the politicians do not speak to each other. As I write, we do not yet know the outcome of the meetings between the two leaders in Addis Ababa. I hope that they have heeded the words of condemnation and exhortation from the international community, including the UN Security Council and the British and American Governments. The guns must be silenced and the troops returned to barracks. The price of a final agreement between the governments in Khartoum and Juba should not be paid in yet more civilian blood.