'The world's greatest human rights disaster'

Mukesh Kapila, a former U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / U.N.

Ahead of this week’s African Union summit, a coalition of civil society groups is calling for action on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces. On Friday, a former top U.N. official joined the campaign, suggesting the region was “becoming another Darfur-scale catastrophe.”

“The piecemeal approach to Sudan’s different theatres of conflict has obscured the overall picture and proved ineffective as a means to thwart what could now be the world’s greatest human rights disaster,” said Mukesh Kapila, who as U.N. humanitarian coordinator in 2004 helped focus the world’s attention on the Darfur crisis.

“It is deeply frustrating that diplomacy to secure aid access has achieved nothing so far. Decision-makers need to ask themselves whether they are prepared to allow the loss of Sudanese lives that will result from continued obstruction to international humanitarian relief,” he added.

His words echo those of John Ging, who serves as director of operations in the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The humanitarian community needs access, not more process in the two conflict-afflicted states, Ging said on Jan. 8.

These calls will add pressure to members of the African Union, who are set to meet on Friday, Jan. 25, at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The African Union has been one of the groups engaged in talks meant to ensure access for humanitarian groups to South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“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,” Nuba Relief Rehabilitation and Development Organization Director Nagwa Konda said in an article published by Aegis Trust.

“I implore the AU to translate all this paperwork into action. We need more than communiqués: You can’t eat a communiqué, a communiqué can’t protect you from air strikes,” she added.

Kapila, who just visited both states, compared the current situation in the two conflict-afflicted states with the crisis in Darfur that boiled over in 2003, saying he saw the “same tactics of systematic ethnic cleansing in full play in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.”

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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