AU leaders urged to help end conflict in Sudan

AU leaders urged to help end conflict in Sudan
# 18 January 2013 20:39 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. A panel of African civil society leaders on Friday called on the continent's political leaders to use the AU Summit scheduled next week in Addis Ababa to end the humanitarian suffering in Sudan's Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The panel which was joined by former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Dr. Mukesh Kapila, told a news conference in Nairobi that the AU summit should take a lasting solution to the current fighting in the two states.

"We have been waiting for the AU to take action; we have been hearing a lot, seeing agreements being signed and communiques issued but nothing has changed on the ground," said Nagwa Konda, Director of the Nuba Relief Rehabilitation and Development Organization.

"I implore the AU to translate all this paperwork into action. We need more than communiques: you can't eat a communique; a communique can't protect you from air strikes," Konda told journalists in Nairobi.

According to UN Security Council, the conflict in Southern Kordofan and the neighboring Blue Nile states has had a devastating effect on local people.

Hundreds of thousands of people there are surviving on roots and leaves, John Ging, UN humanitarian operations director said Jan. 12. Both Sudan's government and the rebels are blocking access to international aid workers, he added.

The panel identified the Jan. 25 Heads of State meeting on Sudan as a key test of the AU's "credibility" and urged African leaders to recognize the importance of addressing the conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile for wider regional security.

Kapila who has just returned from a visit to the region, called for an independent commission of enquiry into the conflict amongst warnings of "ethnic cleansing."

"Ten years ago when I was UN chief in Darfur I tried to alert the world to what was happening, but it was too late," said Kapila who is also the Special Representative for the Aegis Trust and former UN representative in Darfur.

"I appeal to the AU to look at the humanitarian situation as a priority and establish a full commission of enquiry, with African leadership, into the situation on the ground."

Shara Joshep Lago, a Muslim human rights activist and a former observer during the Blue Nile State elections, called upon the African Union and the League of Arab States to take action to protect civilians.

Lago told journalists that the humanitarian aspects of the conflict should be a priority, noting nobody will be alive to enjoy a future peace.

"I am from Blue Nile and have been a victim of events. I have been chased by aircraft and ground forces. I saw a pregnant woman forced to give birth under a tree and then take her child and keep running," Lago said.

Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile border South Sudan, which separated from Sudan in July 2011 under a peace agreement that ended the 1983-2005 civil war.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting rebels operating in Sudan, including the 19-month rebellion in oil-producing Southern Kordofan. The South, in turn, has said Sudan backs insurgents on its territory.

"I am here on behalf of my people. This is a war of horror where children are dying every day. There are no vaccinations, medicine, there is nothing," said Bishop Andudu of Kadugli in the Nuba Mountains.

"In December there were over 230 bombings. We are calling for AU leadership at its summit next week. This is a rare opportunity that we mustn't miss," he said.