|"Refugees from the Southern Kordofan region of Sudan gathered at a United Nations headquarters last week after ethnic clashes drove them from their homes." (Paul Banks/United Nations Mission in Sudan, via Associated Press)|
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, June 15, 2011
"United Nations officials warned on Wednesday of 'a growing sense of panic' in the volatile Kordofan area of central Sudan, with 60,000 people displaced, aid convoys blocked, ethnic clashes erupting and dozens dead -- possibly including several United Nations workers. President Obama urged the Sudanese government to cease 'its military actions immediately.' Aid workers and historians of Sudan said that what was happening in the Kordofan region, as described by United Nations officials, had the echoes of previous conflicts in the country that had spiraled out of control, including the bloodshed in Darfur. 'The ingredients for an explosion are all present,' said Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and an outspoken activist who has written frequently on Sudan. 'The violence in South Kordofan threatens peace in Sudan like no other crisis, and there are many.' Kordofan lies at the heart of Sudan, is emblematic of many of the country's problems, and is home to myriad militias, rival ethnic groups and contested oil wells. Vicious fighting broke out there last week, and there is fear that an escalating conflict in Kordofan could complicate southern Sudan's secession into an independent country, scheduled for next month. According to United Nations officials and aid workers, the northern Sudanese Army has embarked on an aggressive campaign against Kordofan's Nuban people, many of whom aligned with the southern Sudanese during Sudan's last civil war. 'They are killing the black people,' said a Sudanese aid worker who just escaped from a bombed village on Wednesday and asked not to be identified for safety reasons.
'The northern army is slaughtering people who supported the SPLM,' the southern-led political party that is active in several parts of northern Sudan. It was difficult to get a clear picture of what exactly was happening because northern Sudanese soldiers were not allowing United Nations monitors to travel freely in the area and have severed access to many villages, some of them heavily bombed. Anglican Church officials said that the violence was intensifying and that Kordofan could become 'another Darfur.' On Wednesday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report, 'There is a growing sense of panic among some of the displaced populations who find themselves trapped by the ongoing violence and the ethnic fault lines.' The report also spoke of 'sectarian violence against civilians' and 'widespread looting' and said that local sources had indicated that dozens had been killed in bombing runs by northern Sudanese aircraft. An internal United Nations report provided to The New York Times said that the northern army was planting mines -- which have already killed at least one person -- in towns and that there had been allegations of mass graves. Sudan Democracy First Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization, said at least 28 people had been killed in extrajudicial executions, and it provided the names of the people it said had been killed. 'Ethnic cleansing once again,' the group said this week. [...]"