Week’s Summary: Interview with Contacts in Kauda 2/4/12
We have a few general updates this week before we get into our regular summary.
First, we have a new contact in Kauda who, unlike all our other sources, will not be anonymous. His name is Kaluga and he serves as the Commissioner for the South Kordofan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, which is a branch of the SPLA-N. Or if you’re unfamiliar with Sudanese political acronyms, he’s in charge of humanitarian relief for the opposition forces (but he, himself, is not a combattant). Why share his name? Because he’s not a civilian like our other sources, representing a vested interest in the success of the SPLM-N. But we’re interviewing him because we also believe that he’s genuinely concerned for and cares deeply about the wellbeing of civilians in the area. Further, his relationship to the SPLA/M he is able to offer us some information we wouldn’t otherwise be able to get.
Second, we are announcing that over the next month we will be conducting a public health survey of South Kordofan to independently determine what kinds of aid are needed, at what volume, and where. We expect to have a statistically relavant sample size, covering close to 80 percent of the state. When our survey is completed we’ll issue a press release and conference call–and we’ll submit our report to several international aid organizations. More on this to come.
Third, we need to mention the widely reported kidnapping of Chinese workers by the SPLM-N (here, here, here and here are examples). The SPLM-N released the following, fairly inadequate statement that 1) portrays the SPLM-N as the protectors Chinese workers and 2) averts responding to (or justifies) war crime charges by charging the NCP with war crimes:
The NCP Air Force bombards and kills Civilians in the Nuba Mountains
While the committee established by the SPLMN leadership to manage the logistics and facilitate the release of the 29 Chinese workers was engaged in contacts with the Chinese Government and other parties to facilitate the evacuation of the Chinese workers from South Kordofan / Nuba Mountains and ensure their return to their home country, the NCP Government intensified its Antonov aerial bombardments deliberately to obstruct and delay the evacuation process.
- On February 1st, 2012, the Antonov dropped eight bombs on Haiban School of Theology, crating a state of panic among the people.
- On February 2nd, 2012, twelve bombs were dropped at the Buram town, causing the death of one civilian and the injury of two other.
- On February 2nd, 2012, eight bombs were dropped on Kau Nyaro area causing the death of Mamour Khiralla, 85 years old civilian and the burning of one house.
The SPLMN reiterate its warning to the NCP regime of the grave consequences of its continued indiscriminate aerial bombardments and the mobilization of its forces and militias deliberately to obstruct, undermine and delay the evacuation process of the Chinese workers and their return to their home land. –By Arnu N. Loddi, Spokesperson of the SPLMN, 02/02/2012
The statement fails to mention the SPLM-N killing of at least one Chinese civilian as reported by the Wall St. Journal, though it may be that the killing took place after it was released and there is the possibility that the civilian was killed in crossfire by the NCP:
China on Thursday said a worker shot by rebels during a rescue attempt by Sudanese forces had most likely died. The state-run Xinhua news agency, quoting an unnamed official at the Chinese Embassy in Khartoum, reported that the worker was one among at least 18 who had escaped from a Chinese road-construction camp in the South Kordofan region during an attack by rebels on Saturday. Rebels captured another 29, which remain in captivity.
I don’t fully understand the motivations of the SPLM-N and will not speculate on the causes. As always, we stand with the victims of war and condemn the actions of the SPLM-N. The Nuba Mountain Peace Coalition demands the safe release of the remaining Chinese civilians and asks for other advocacy groups to do the same.
This week’s source, Kaluga, has been back in Kauda for the past 20 days. Previously he had been in South Sudan meeting with aid organizations. He assures us that there are roads (though unnamed) that remain open for delivering aid. He claims the the SPLM-N controls between 85%-86% of South Kordofan, having seven localities under their control. As in past reports, initial interviews often yield less relevant, concrete information–so our weekly report this week will be relatively shorter.
Bombing: We listed the official SPLM-N bombing report above. Kaluga had nothing other to add. Samaritan’s Purse reports some further details on one of the bombing and it’s echoed by the Enough Project (again without a single mention of the kidnapping of the Chinese civilians).
Food: He reiterates what we and others have already been reporting–food will begin to run in South Kordofan out by and during March. He claims that without aid the following three towns will run out of food first: Buram, Abduin and Kadugli.
Human Migration: The SPLM-N estimates that between 200 and 300 people are able to escape South Kordofan each day either to the south or to the north. He estimates that there are around 28,000 refugees in Yida and that there are no border-crossing problems for refugees fleeing into South Sudan. Somewhat confusingly he estimates that there are nearly 2.5 million people in South Kordofan, with 1.3 under SPLM-N control–we have been following a different set of estimates that put the total civilian population between 200,000 and 500,000.
Public Health: He reports that there are only two operational health clinics/ hospitals in Kauda.
I appreciate the comments and feedback on this post. I apologize where it seemed that my own speculation was supportive of the Sudanese Armed Forces–I assure you neither I nor the Nuba Peace Coalition are supportive of SAF actions. I have removed my own speculation, and, indeed, my critics were correct in pointing out that these reports are too important to compromise them with personal speculation. Again I apologize. However, please know that as an organization seeking peace and unaffiliated with a military side we will be critical of any militarized group that harms civilians.