Humanitarian Crisis in the Nuba Mountains


The Nuba of Sudan are facing humanitarian crisis following the second outbreak of fighting in Southern Kordofan in June 2011 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).  This conflict is causing an enormous destruction to human lives,properties, livestock and environment. In addition it has created serious humanitarian crisis in the region.  Many thousands Nuba civilians, including women, children and elderly people were forcibly displaced from their homes and living in appalling condition. These internal displace people have no adequate food, medical care and shelter etc., coupled with a famine which has already started in some areas in the region. This because many people in South Kordofan missed last year rainy season due to the war and they could not cultivate their crops.  Recent humanitarian report is warning of acute food insecurity which has reached critical high level in the Nuba Mountains/ South Kordofan. Many international NGOs including UNHCR and others are calling on Sudan Government to allow access to humanitarian actors to deliver assistance to people in affected areas before it is too late.

The fighting which began in Kadugli has spread rapidly like a fire to engulf the entire Nuba Mountains / Southern Kordofan state. In this conflict the SAF used heavy artilleries and indiscriminately aerial-bombardments in the areas of Kadugli, Dilling, Koada, talodi and Alabassia, and this resulted in killing of tens of thousands, displacement of many thousands of Nuba populations and destruction of many Nuba villages and properties. It is reported that more than 40,000 inhabitants of Kadugli, the principal town of the Nuba Mountains have fled for fear for their lives.

The Government of Sudan (GoS) has refused to allow the establishment of IDP camps, as it believes that this will replicate the same conditions as those found in Darfur and this in addition to the blockade of humanitarian assistance has made life difficult for the IDP.

The United Nations Mission UNMIS) Human Rights Section in Sudan produced a report on 30th June 2011 revealing that war crimes were occurring in the Southern Kordofan. This was supported by the reports of eyewitnesses and INGOs operating in the area that spoke of a systematic targeting of civilian population by Sudan armed forces, national intelligence apparatus, security service agents and allied paramilitary troops. It also reported that “the security situation continues to deteriorate. Nearly all World Food Program workers have been evacuated”. Currently many Nuba are living in caves and their lives at great risk - no food, water, or medical care.

The heavy arterially shelling and indiscriminate aerial bombardments led to more than 73,000 people fled the region (UN report) for fear for their lives. However, the latest independent report showed a higher number than this figure which is 425,000 displaced people. These displaced people are living in appalling conditions, with no shelter, food, water or medical care. Many children and women are among these internal displaced civilians. Some of these displaced people, including many children have moved to the top of the mountains, hiding in caves to ovoid aerial bombardments and they have no humanitarian access at all which means that their lives are at great danger. Recently the U.N. reports showed that “the “security situation continues to deteriorate”, as nearly all the World Food Program workers have been evacuated.


 Fifg. 1 IDPs Nuba near UNMIS Compound in Kadugli  waiting   for                            Fig.2  Women & Children at UNMIS Compound humanitarian assistance     Photo: Charton Doki 2011                                                               Photo: Charton Doki, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Since the war broke out last June the level of the humanitarian crisis in the Nuba Mountains has increased steadily, mounting to stage of humanitarian catastrophe. This rapid deteriorating situation is due to the fact that the Government has been denying INGOs access to the area to deliver humanitarian assistance to people who are in desperate need, particularly the children and women living in caves without no adequate food, water, or medical care (see fig. 3 and 4)


                         Fig.3    Displaced Nuba Children living in a cave near Kauda.

                                            Photo: Tomo Krizna 2011


Fig. 4  Displaced Nuba Children living in a cave near Kauda.                                                 Nuba children      Photo: Tomo Krizna

Photo: Tomo Krizna 2011

Many other IDPs who fled to the northern Sudan are living in a very difficult condition with no support ever from the government and they depend only the help offered to them from friends

The history seems to repeat itself, as the Nuba in 1990s underwent through a systematic genocidal campaign of violence committed by the same regime in Khartoum and went through famine at the same time. During this time the people of the Nuba Mountains suffered enormously. Today they are facing the same conflict and famine which has already started in the region. The international community and the UN are extremely concerned over the situation in the Nuba Mountains / Southern Kordofan and calling on the Sudanese Government to allow access to humanitarian agencies to the region to help. However, the Khartoum government continues to deny access. While the dire need for humanitarian assistance is mounting day by day and has now reach unprecedented scale of human suffering.