Dear Madam Chairperson,
The undersigned African and international non-governmental organisations would like to update the Commission on the conflicts in the Sudanese border states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and their impact on civilians, including refugees who have fled to South Sudan. We believe it is now more critical than ever that the Commission demand that all parties to the conflict agree to a ceasefire and allow unimpeded humanitarian access to the two areas. It is also imperative that the Commission urgently authorise a fact finding mission to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States to assess the human rights situation, and ensure that its findings are reported to the concerned regional institutions without delay.
Following the Joint NGO Statement on Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States (24 October) and the Commission’s adoption of a Resolution on the General Human Rights Situation in Africa (Res. 207 (L) 2011) at the conclusion of its 50th session in early November, there has been a serious escalation in the conflict in the two areas that has caused new displacements and an increase in refugee flows to neighbouring states. The most recent figures from the United Nations (OCHA Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin 11-17 November) indicate that:
We are especially concerned by the recent spread of the conflict into South Sudan, and the impact this is having on both the civilian population in the border areas and refugees who have fled the conflicts to South Sudan. On 15 November in a briefing to the UN Security Council, the Head of the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping, Mr Herve Ladsous, confirmed that:
The UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon has condemned the Sudanese Government’s bombing of Yida camp, and called on both governments to exercise restraint in managing border tensions and to recommit to a negotiated settlement.
The escalation of rhetoric between the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan, particularly in regard to allegations of cross border support of rebel groups and incursions into one another’s territory, has heightened concerns that the two states could revert to war.
In response to these developments, the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Jean Ping, issued a media release (attached) expressing ‘deep concern at the tension at the border’ between Sudan and South Sudan, and indicating that this is a matter that the AU is now seized of. He urged ‘both Governments to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any act that may further aggravate the already tense situation on their common border.’ He also reiterated the AU’s resolve ‘to assist the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan to address the various challenges they face’.
It is now critical that the Commission take swift action to address these developments. We respectfully urge the Commission to take up the recommendations in the resolution on the situation in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile States that was adopted by the NGO Forum that preceded the 50th session of the Commission. The resolution (attached) called on the Commission to inter alia:
Your consideration of these recommendations is greatly appreciated and would contribute towards preventing further atrocities on the continent. We look forward to the Commission’s response.