Sudan has endured conflict for nearly a decade, but a military takeover is unusual
The military has taken over in Sudan. Here’s what happened
Sudan has suffered conflict and international isolation for almost a decade, but a military takeover is not usually what most Sudanese would expect.
The military operation in Blue Nile and South Kordofan has been ongoing since mid-2015, when the SPLM-North group first contested elections in the south and then split with their former allies from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the north.
The crisis has intensified in recent weeks, in the wake of renewed talks between President Omar al-Bashir and the rebel groups. On Monday the military said it had taken control of South Kordofan.
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Here is a selection of comments by journalists, activists and aid workers about what had happened.
Hooman Hussain, a journalist and activist with the website Um al-Izz, which has documented government violence in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, took to social media to criticise the takeover:
Journalist/activist Hooman Hussain (@hoomanhi) @KDHRessex What would the military ever do for peace & not violence? In 2012-13 we were only reminded of the previous regime of #PresidentOmarBashir! What we do for our people is NOT military!
NGO Sudan Unheard’s letter to the UN security council on Friday urged the international community to use its influence to ensure Sudan’s humanitarian situation is addressed. “The recent halt to the peace talks should be seen as a message that it is not possible to peacefully resolve the current crisis,” the letter said.
The letter described government actions as a “bloodbath”.
Blue Nile and South Kordofan depend on the north-south split for their security, so instability in the region is deeply embarrassing for the government. But Sudan has not been alone in this division: the South Sudan civil war began in December 2013, with South Sudanese fighting SPLM-North, the majority-based and semi-autonomous Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, whose troops and supporters, many of them Nuba from Southern Kordofan, are now fighting government forces.
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Aid agencies are advising families on how to obtain enough food in the coming weeks. “Food stocks are not as good as they were a few months ago, especially for children and pregnant and lactating women,” said Andy Seidman, a spokesperson for Save the Children.
Some international NGOs are distancing themselves from the clashes in Sudan, but they are preparing to support people in the area and local communities in the short term.
While the situation in south Sudan remains dire – widespread levels of hunger – the majority of Sudanese live outside conflict zones, which means that fighting is mostly resolutely in rural areas, and is not expected to have a significant impact on food security.
Another aid agency, CARE, said it was planning to extend its services in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and eastern Sudan, which it described as an area of “heavy ethnic tension”.