I write to you today to ask that the United States, key allies and all willing partners in peace provide immediate assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people who now face imminent starvation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan, and to the one hundred thousand plus Sudanese refugees currently residing in South Sudan. At least 500,000 people face imminent starvation in South...
I write to you today to ask that the United States, key allies and all willing partners in peace provide immediate assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people who now face imminent starvation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan, and to the one hundred thousand plus Sudanese refugees currently residing in South Sudan. At least 500,000 people face imminent starvation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and in-country estimates place the number of severely affected civilians in both states at closer to 800,000. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, as of March 23, there were 108,172 registered Sudanese refugees in South Sudan. Countless more have fled Blue Nile State to neighboring Ethiopia and to Kenya by way of Ethiopia or South Sudan and remain beyond the current reach of aid.
As you know, the government of Sudan has daily bombed civilian populations in South Kordofan for ten months – using both Antonov Cargo and MIG-29 assets to unload fragmentary bombs on top of civilian targets and in some instances to strafe civilians as a means to inflict immediate civilian casualties, terrorize the civilian population and, through displacement and disruption of the crop cycle, cause the death by attrition of hundreds of thousands of people – mainly Nuba people. Civilians in Blue Nile State equally suffer from Sudan’s military offensive.
The United Nations Security Council remains deeply divided on both the root cause of the conflict and on delivery of aid. While the United Nations Security Council has demanded both Sudan and SPLA-N “rebels” agree to the immediate delivery of aid, it has failed to promote a contingency plan for aid delivery in the event the Sudanese government remains intransigently opposed to feeding its people. As I am certain you are aware, on February 16, 2012, SPLM/A-N agreed to full and unfettered access to “rebel” held areas and to guarantee the uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian supplies to affected civilians within areas under its control. Indeed, the SPLM/A-N in many instances acts as a first line of defense against Sudan Air Force attacks, helps to triage Sudan’s bombing victims and provides security for journalists and outside observers who bravely enter Sudan.
To date, the government of Sudan has refused to grant the international community permission to feed its famine victims. Should Sudan continue on its current path, the rainy season will descend upon Sub-Saharan Sudan, sealing the fate of Nuban civilians who will be unable to receive life-saving relief due to impassable road conditions and dangerously mired landing zones. Sudan has resisted committing to the Arab League initiated “Tripartite Proposal” of humanitarian relief for two months. The rainy season will begin in the next few weeks. The time to act is now.
United States, Key Allies and All Partners in Peace
1. Could immediately begin delivery of pre-positioned humanitarian relief supplies by way of civilian chartered small aircraft or cargo helicopters, landing adjacent to the mountain massifs in which civilians now refuge. In this manner, the operation could ensure aid reaches affected civilians and the medical conditions of those civilians could be assessed by trained medics for triage and/or evacuation to medical facilities.
Groups such as Wings of Hope St. Louis could possibly provide small aircraft pilots (http://www.wings-of-hope.org/) or pilots could be temporarily detached from existing service commitments to deliver aid in a strictly civilian role.
2. Could air drop larger shipments of humanitarian supplies. With this option, coordination of the distribution of ground relief would require working with local Nuba leaders to calculate need and to ensure aid reaches affected civilians in a timely manner. Large amounts of aid will need to be delivered quickly to ensure civilians can survive through the rainy season in the event additional air drops of aid cannot be distributed to them due to impassable roads.
An air-based humanitarian assistance program, documented by video for security reasons, would be the quickest and least invasive manner to ensure life-saving supplies immediately reach civilians in need. Such a program would also likely help reduce Sudan Air Force bombing and strafing of civilians in the Nuba Mountains as video documentation of such campaigns would constitute evidentiary proof of Sudan’s committal of crimes against humanity. In essence, a no-fly zone would be established by virtue of an international observatory force whose main purpose remains the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Please seriously consider this request in a timely fashion. The lives of up to nearly a million people depend on your decisive action.
Thank you for your time.