Military aggression in recent weeks by Sudan against southern Sudan is costing more lives almost daily. After northern Sudanese forces recently occupied the North-South, oil-rich border town of Abyei, many analysts feared the worst: that more bloodshed would occur, killing many innocent people and placing great stress on the fragile peace between North and South. Sometimes nightmares come true.
CT senior writer Sheryl Blunt earlier today wrote this dispatch about how desperate things have become in remote areas of southern Sudan, just in the past week to ten days:
Peace activists and Southern Sudanese officials are calling for rapid foreign intervention in Southern Sudan as well as in the contested border region where reports of mass killings and ethnic cleansing are on the rise in the Nuba Mountainsand elsewhere.
In January Southern Sudan voted for independence. It is scheduled to secede on July 9. But reports of recent fighting in Abyei, located in the oil-producing border region, and Equitoria, is threatening the new nation's future.
On Thursday the Sudan Tribune reported that Southern Sudan was calling for "foreign militaryintervention" in the border state of South Kordofanin order to stop the escalating fighting.
Joseph Ukel, a Southern Sudanese education official told the Tribune military intervention was necessary since Sudan's Northern government had officially announced it would be driving Southern Sudan's SPLA forces (Sudan People's Liberation Army) from the region.
Kimberly Smith, president of Make Way Partners, which finances the only indigenous-run orphanages in the country, said she believes the terror tactics being employed against civilians throughout the South are intended to stop the new nation from claiming its independence.
The north's Islamic government is also reportedly employing rebel forces from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to terrorize civilians in Southern Sudan near the Uganda border. Smith said that on June 1 "the LRA attacked another village" near an orphanage known as Hope for Sudan that is currently housing 45 children.
"Although we cannot confirm numbers as yet, we do know many were wounded, some were killed, and others were captured," wrote Smith in a June 3 blog post. In the blog, Lual Atak, the indigenous director of another orphanage of 550 children located along the Darfur border, described the atrocities the LRA solders had committed against thechildren.
He said, "They gathered all the little children together and started killing their people right in front of their eyes," said Atak. "The children were so terrorized. The LRA then made the children begin killing theirown parents. After the slaughter, the boys were forced to carry large metal barrels, and the girls were forced to fetch water to fill the barrels. They then had to build fires around the barrels. While the water began to boil, the children were forced to hack up their parents and fellows bodies and throw their dismembered parts in the boiling water. After sometime, the children were forced to eat their own parents and fellows flesh. … Once the LRA knew the children were so traumatized they would do anything, kill anyone, and not try to run away, they left the village with their new soldiers and sexslaves."
In the past the Khartoum government has employed Joseph Kony's LRA to carry out attacks against Southern Sudanese. In 2008 the LRA captured 300 orphans from the village of Motiin Eastern Equitoria where Smith's organization was about to begin building their Hope for Sudan orphanage.
Last week, Romano Nero, the orphanage's indigenous director, sent pictures of women slaughtered along the roadside near the Eastern Equitorian village of Kapoeta. Children found on the roadside next to their mothers' bodies are now being cared for at the orphanage. Smith said it had not been determined whether the LRA or Khartoum's GOS (Government of Sudan) forces were responsible for the attack.
Similar LRA attacks in the south have been documented by German newsbroadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Meanwhile, reports of renewed attacks in the contested Nuba Mountain region are prompting activists to demand an immediate U.S. response.
"The United States must intervene and stop the ethnic cleansing of the Nuba that is taking place right now in the Nuba Mountains," wrote Faith McDonnell, director of the Instituteon Religion and Democracy's Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan in a recent statement.
McDonnell and others are urging Congress and political candidates tospeak out in order to prevent potential genocide. In 2009 Samaritan's Purse leader Franklin Graham visited Nuba and told CT that more than 1,000 churches have been destroyed, and between one to two million people have been murdered over the course of the 21-year war.
"What Khartoum is doingright now makes the situations in Libya,Egypt, and even Syriapale by comparison," wrote McDonnell.
"Our friends are being slaughtered."