A bishop’s plea for South Kordofan

Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail, bishop of the Kadugli Diocese in South Kordofan. Photo by: United to End Genocide / CC BY-NC-ND

The bishop of the Diocese of Kadugli in South Kordofan is urging the international community to find ways to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to the people in the conflict-torn Sudanese state, even if it is in the form of “indirect aid.”

In an interview with Devex, Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail said the Sudanese government has continued to block humanitarian assistance to South Kordofan. This comes even after signing a memorandum of understanding with a tripartite team comprising the African Union, League of Arab States and the United Nations in August.

Among the various forms of indirect aid the international community can give, according to Elnail, is for organizations to provide financial support and supplies discretely, or via local churches and indigenous groups.

A recently released report from international advocacy group Enough Project confirms the “unfolding humanitarian disaster” in South Kordofan. The report notes malnutrition levels in the state are already at critical level — the most severe classification according to World Health Organization.

The report, published Oct. 18, is the first third-party, on-the-ground assessment of the food crisis in South Kordofan since the humanitarian aid ban in 2011. The assessment was done by an international nongovernmental organization that wishes to remain anonymous, with results given to Enough Project for analysis.

In addition to alarming malnutrition levels, the report published data stating 81.5 percent of households have only one meal per day. It also says that only one-third of arable land is being cultivated. Because of attacks — whether by the government of rebel forces — farmers are afraid to work on their land. As a result, 73.2 percent of households have no income at all.

“We have over 11,000 unschooled children,” Elnail said. “We are urging the international community to help these children go to school. We need food and medicine because we’re losing three children a day. People try to cultivate and do farming but they are bombed.”

In an official statement, the tripartite team said it submitted a needs assessment and aid distribution plan to the Sudanese government on Oct. 8. The plan is supposed to be implemented after the government has given its feedback. But reports of violence in Kadugli, including an attack on a UNICEF compound, on the same day the aid plan was submitted may have hurt chances of implementation.

Despite ongoing violence, limited supplies, and difficult communication and transportation, the reverend’s ministry has been able to send much-needed assistance to many parts of the country with help from its parishioners and priests. A new liaisons office will opened in Juba, South Sudan, to better coordinate relief efforts mostly from faith-based organizations, although Elnail did not give specifics on the timeline.

“I don’t think there is any other big hindrance to humanitarian aid aside from the government conflict,” Elnail said. “Roads and communication difficulties can be overcome. The humanitarian agencies are very ready, they have food, they have money and they don’t need to wait because people are dying.”

Elnail also believes negotiation and agreement are the best solutions to the ongoing crisis in Sudan. He said the tripartite team should resume talks to lift the tension and root for a cease fire, and eventually create an environment conducive enough to allow aid to come into the country.

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    Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news for the Development Newswire. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.