We, the undersigned Sudanese, African and Arab civil society organizations, wish to thank and commend the efforts of the African Union and its various organs under your leadership to bring about a lasting, comprehensive peace to Sudan. We reiterate our support for the proactive stance of the African Union in ensuring that the root causes of Sudan’s crises are addressed.
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For civilians in many parts of Sudan, 2015 has already brought rising hostilities, mass displacement, and a deepening food crisis. The conditions are such that hundreds of civilians are fleeing across the Sudanese border to refugee camps in Unity State, where South Sudan’s civil war is still raging. They have made the judgement that the risks of remaining in Sudan, where they would continue to be subjected to intense aerial bombardment and shelling of civilian areas, and unsustainable livelihoods, were greater than any risks they might encounter in the conflict zone across the border.
Civilians in the ‘Two Areas’ – Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile – have suffered from nearly four years of uninterrupted conflict that has internally displaced 1.7 million people, roughly half of the population. Meanwhile, the conflict in Darfur has thus far internally displaced 2.5 million, and has resulted in over 4.4 million civilians requiring humanitarian assistance, a level rarely exceeded in the history of the twelve year conflict. Both conflicts have seen civilians systematically targeted with regular reporting of killing, rape, destruction of property and community infrastructure, and loss of livelihoods.
While the first three weeks of March were relatively calm, the last week witnessed an notable increase in aerial bombardment and shelling in South Kordofan causing significant displacement and damage to livestock, food and tree crops. A new wave of ground fighting has reportedly caused the displacement of over 20,000 civilians from the front-line areas. Consistent with previous trends, bombing in March appeared to be directed towards civilian targets, such as farms, food stocks and schools, including the New Sudan Primary School in Heiban Payam, but did not cause any human casualties. At the end of the month/beginning of April, the IDPs living in caves in the Tunguli area were targeted, causing the death of seven people. SPLA North military attacks employing a mobile force and aimed at undermining the April elections and depleting government resources, have reportedly provoked civilian casualties and displacement from Government held locations in South Kordofan.
In March the Independent Commission for Aid Impact released a report on how UK aid has been spent training overseas police forces. The report (available at: http://icai.independent.gov.uk/reports/uk-development-assistance-for-security-and-justice/) received little attention in the run-up to the general election. Yet, it concludes that UK officials may be making bad human rights situations worse by honing the skills of repressive security forces.
In the case of Sudan, more than £850,000 was spent on a programme that had to be “terminated ahead of schedule, following violent suppression of protests in Khartoum and other cities in September 2013”, in which more than 100 unarmed democracy protesters were killed.
The Sudanese government has announced that it is intent on holding legislative and presidential elections in April 2015. This, despite repeated calls for their postponement by opposition political forces and independent civil society until such time when peace is secured and the national dialogue, which the government itself had announced and that potentially could lead to national consensus around the Constitution and how the country should be governed, might take place. Moreover, the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced it had completed preparations for the elections and set the schedule for all stages. It also announced that several regional and international actors have expressed an interest in monitoring the elections.
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