Getting Over ‘Sudan Fatigue’

The rainy season in Sudan has begun, and for UN and aid agencies operating just across the Sudan border in the dozens of refugee camps housing those who’ve fled from the indiscriminate bombing of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), a logistic and operational nightmare is very present.

For the hundreds of thousands displaced by the bombing campaign, food and (paradoxically) water shortages have reached crisis proportions.

Last night, Amnesty released its newest research findings in ‘We Can Run Away From Bombs, But Not From Hunger,’ documenting the illegal and indiscriminate bombing campaign of the SAF in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, in Sudan.

Across the border in South Sudan, over 150,000 refugees from Khartoum’s campaign have found strained resources, inadequate shelter, and countless informal encampments of other men, women, and children fleeing what are clearly war crimes, and what may constitute crimes against humanity by the Sudanese government.

If the international community is suffering from Sudan fatigue, it is of our own making. While the people of the Sudans suffer, the international community has constructed a tiring treadmill of half measures and anemic statements.

In addition to killing and maiming the civilians of these two states, and displacing untold hundreds of thousands, the bombing campaign—which has only intensified—has created massive food shortages as civilians are unable to plant and harvest crops. Those unable to access the thin resources across the border have been relegated to foraging tree bark and leaves to survive.

Humanitarian organizations have been blocked from entering Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, with few outsiders gaining access (such as Nick Kristof). The result of this denial of humanitarian aid is and will continue to be the death of civilians on a scale that should violate any conscience.

Last night in a pointed (and somewhat unexpected) question, I was asked on air during the Al Jazeera News Hour if the international community was suffering from “Sudan fatigue.” The seemingly endless flow of the displaced, accounts of horrific events, and obituaries of the dead has been met with weak Security Council statements, over one hundred un-executed indictments for grave crimes, and an endless barrage of obstruction by Khartoum.

If the international community is suffering from Sudan fatigue, it is of our own making. While the people of the Sudans suffer, the international community has constructed a tiring treadmill of half measures and anemic statements. As China or Russia lament an “aid crisis,” they arm the Sudanese government with the tools to create the crisis.

The international community—and the UN Security Council in particular—is not lacking a path forward, but rather has lacked the will. The need for action is urgent. Steps must be taken now.

As strongly as I can convey in words, the cost to humanity for delayed or weak action at this very moment will directly lead to a catastrophe that should not only stain humanity itself, but threaten the credibility of the international institutions designed to safeguard it.

What needs to happen Immediately:

  • ALL arms transfers to Sudan must be suspended. States—such as Russia, China, Belarus, the Ukraine, and others—who arm the Sudanese government can no longer plausibly deny complicity in the crimes documented in “We Can Run…”
  • The Security Council must condemn and demand an end to the indiscriminate bombing by Khartoum, and establish and independent inquiry into the crimes committed over the last year in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
  • The Security Council must demand humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. There must be consequences for failure to allow aid to civilians in these two states, and the council must make them clear.
  • The Security Council must extend the arms embargo on Darfur—which is being violated and continues to fuel conflict in Darfur—to the whole of Sudan, and UN member states must develop an effective global Arms Trade Treaty this month.

Many of those likely responsible in Sudan for these crimes and the creation of a humanitarian crisis are wanted by the International Criminal Court for their roles in Darfur, including Ahmed Haroun—the current governor of Southern Kordofan (on 42 counts of war crimes and Crimes Against Humanity), the Sudanese Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, and indeed, the head of the Sudanese state Omar al-Bashir on additional charges of Genocide.

The impunity these men have enjoyed, and the lack of a strong international condemnation of continued crimes is inseparable from the suffering that has followed forth. The Security Council and the international community must take some ownership for what has followed. Tell them to do so here. And it will own quite the travesty should it fail to act now.

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2 thoughts on “Getting Over ‘Sudan Fatigue’

  1. Too much is given and much is expected from everyone for a better life of the world. We will do that.