Rt. Hon Clare Short MP
Secretary for International Development
The House of Commons
4th February .2002
Dear Ms Short,
Nuba Survival Foundation is the London-based humanitarian organisation working for the plight of the Nuba people in central Sudan and would like to express its sincere gratitude to the governments of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Switzerland, for their unremitting efforts to bring about the cessation of hostilities in the Nuba Mountains.
We are pleased that you have visited Sudan recently in person, and have seen for yourself the suffering of the people, and we urge you to do your utmost to bring about a just and a lasting peace in the Sudan.
The Nuba are grateful for the historic accord signed on 19 January at Burgenstock which seemed totally different from all previous agreements signed by the warring parties, as it includes provision for international monitoring. This accord may be considered as a foundation for a comprehensive peace for the whole of Sudan. We believe that the long isolation and denial of humanitarian access to the people of the Nuba Mountains will be over with the enforcement of the Burgenstock Cease-fire Agreement.
Since there is now a relative peace in the Nuba Mountains, we would like the United Kingdom to take the lead, together with the United States and other European countries, in developing the Nuba Mountains region which has suffered so much from the long conflict in the region. It is important to stress that the level of human suffering and the destruction brought by 18 years of civil war in the Nuba Mountains are enormous. The people in the Nuba Mountains now face an immense challenge in rebuilding their lives. The education infrastructure, health services, water systems, social development and roads have all been destroyed. In addition tens of thousands of Nuba are displaced all over the country and most of them living in appalling conditions in the outskirts of big cities in northern Sudan. These people would like to return and settle in their homeland and of course will need support and it is for this reason we are appealing to the United Kingdom and the other European countries to help the Nuba to rehabilitate themselves.
We believe that the Switzerland Accord is definitely a good step forward for peace in Sudan. However, the road to peace in the Nuba Mountains and for the whole of Sudan is still a long way. On the political level, the Nuba support the Inter-Government Authority for Development (IGAD) Declaration of Principles which we believe is the best platform for Sudanese to discuss the future of their country. However, both the IGAD and the Egypt/Libya peace initiatives seem to ignore the special situation of the Nuba people and other indigenous groups in Northern Sudan.
While any agreement that brings peace to Sudan can only be welcomed, the Nuba are deeply concerned that a peace agreement that does not settle the concerns of the Nuba people and the other non-Arab groups in the country will not achieve the justice and stability that Sudan needs. A peace that only means the perpetuation of injustice for those marginalised people who collectively comprise a majority of Northern Sudan's population, will surely be a recipe for future conflict.
We believe that now more than ever there is a pressing need for a comprehensive peace in Sudan along the lines laid drawn in the IGAD Declaration of Principles. Significantly, the IGAD Committee members in their last meeting in Khartoum agreed to integrate the Egypt/Libya peace initiative into IGAD, and appointed President Moi of Kenya to do that and to prepare a round table conference, which is now becoming imminent.
However, the Nuba are extremely concerned about the luck of their representation in this upcoming conferences as there had been lack of representation in previous IGAD. Meetings and they have not hitherto been given the opportunity to speak for themselves, it is essential that the Nuba delegation for the peace talks should come as Nuba and not under the umbrella of SPLA or NDA, so that they can argue for the rights of the Nuba with a strong and united voice. The claim made by the Government and the SPLM at the IGAD peace process, that the Nuba Mountains are part and parcel of either of the North or of the South, is not acceptable and it is rejected by all population of the Nuba Mountains.
The Nuba demand the right to self-determination in full. They have a strong case, which is based on their long historical record of suffering from abuse, injustice, discrimination and marginalisation and above all they are claiming it and fighting for it. The Nuba demand the right to self-determination within a united secular democratic Sudan, which should be exercised in a period not more than three months after the people of Southern Sudan had carried out their referendum and decided to opt for an independent Southern state. In this case the people of Nuba Mountains shall exercise their right to self-determination to choose one of the following options open to them:
- To choose to join the northern state;
- To choose to join the southern state;
- To choose to establish their own independent state.
During the agreed interim period the Nuba Mountains should be administered independently from both north and south and under the international supervision.
Your Excellency, we would like to bring also to your attention the following important points:
- The Burgenstock Cease-fire Agreement for the Nuba Mountain should be
consolidated and the immediate presence of effective monitoring unit in the ground is essential not only to observe the cease-fire agreement but also to monitor human rights violations in the region and that the cease-fire agreement should continue to uphold even after 6 month period is expired, to avoid the risk running into another brutal war in the Nuba Mountains.
2 The international community should arrange to bring all the Sudanese to a round table peace conference, under the Chairmanship of President Moi, assisted by Egypt, the USA, the UK and Norway.
3 The IGAD Declaration of Principles should be the basis for peace negotiations at this conference, because it stipulates the right to self-determination and a transitional period.
4 All Sudanese of different political shades and from all regions should be represented at any future round table conference to decide the future of their country.
5 During the interim period, both the Nuba Mountains should be administered separately from the central government and the SPLM under the United Nations supervision.
6 In the case the Government of Sudan refusing to renew the cease-fire agreement when it expires in 6 months time and deciding to continue its bombardments in the Nuba Mountains and elsewhere, the international community should impose a no fly-zone to protect civilian populations under the Geneva Convention.
Finally, we appeal to you to use your good offices to ensure that a just and lasting comprehensive peace settlement is achieved and that the political rights of the people of the marginalised areas in the northern Sudan, including the Nuba, are redressed and respected.
We trust that this receives your urgent attention.
Suleiman Musa Rahhal