In Darfur, South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile the Khartoum regime has escalated bombing attacks, including bombing the only hospital in the Nuba Mountains. The government of Sudan unleashed a new deadlier version of the brutal Janjaweed militias, now named “Rapid Support Forces,” heavily armed, in uniform, flying the national flag, and with an official license to kill. The government continues to deny humanitarian aid workers access to many parts of the country, with USAID estimating that 5 million Sudanese are facing varied levels of acute food insecurity.
Though few Americans are aware of it, violence against civilians in Sudan has increased to unprecedented levels. Violence in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile are peaking in the fourth year of government attacks. In Darfur, violence has escalated to the match the worst levels of the early years of the Darfur genocide. For many, genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan are mistakenly thought to be a problem of the past – and our political leaders are following suit.
As the media has largely ignored the ongoing devastation in Sudan, neighboring South Sudan continues to face a civil war. Less than three years after gaining independence from South Sudan, a power struggle within the ruling political party recently mutated into an armed conflict, killing thousands and displacing 1.5 million people. Despite an agreement to “end the conflict,” clashes persist and state collapse is still possible. Now many South Sudanese are streaming across the border into Sudan, and the violence is affecting the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees who had been sheltering there. Pockets of famine and genocidal targeting are threatening both countries and the intensifying conflicts are pulling in neighboring states.
These challenges require a much greater U.S. diplomatic effort than present capacities allow. The U.S. cannot positively influence outcomes in Sudan and South Sudan without significantly enhancing its efforts in the areas of accountability and consequences, diplomacy and peacemaking, and aiding and protecting the most vulnerable.