Armed conflict and air raids, blocked humanitarian aid and potential food shortages: conditions for civilians in two states on the border with South Sudan are giving increasing cause for concern.
"I am really afraid for my life. The first two days of the [fighting], we could see dozens of dead bodies on the streets," said Ahmed*, a resident of Ed Damazine, the capital of Blue Nile state, where clashes broke out on 1 September between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), prompting more than 20,000 people to flee to neighboring Ethiopia.
"I have been at home since Saturday [3 September]. At the beginning, people chose to leave the city by car or by bus. Most of the people did. I had things to do before leaving. Now, it is too late. Nobody can go out from the city. I am SPLM. The army knows it. I am afraid," added the student, speaking to IRIN by telephone before lines were reportedly cut.
SPLM-N was formed as the northern branch of the political party dominating the government in the now independent state of South Sudan. On 4 September, SPLM-N Secretary-General Yasir Arman said Khartoum's ruling National Congress Party had banned SPLM-N and arrested many of its members and confiscated property in many parts of Sudan.
Each side blamed the other for igniting the clashes in Blue Nile. SPLM-N described Khartoum's actions as a coup against elected Blue Nile governor Malik Aggar, a former commander in the movement's military wing (SPLA), during Sudan's 1983-2005 north-south civil war.
SAF spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad described Aggar as a "rebel" whose forces had been planning attacks on four army positions in the state.
Sense of foreboding
Ali*, another Ed Damazine resident, made his escape by bus to the town of Wad Madani with his wife and three children a day before fighting broke out.
"There was something in the air, something was about to happen. There had been soldiers everywhere in town for several weeks," he told IRIN.
Thousands of residents of Kurmuk, the main town in the south of Blue Nile, also took flight after the SAF began aerial bombardments there on 2 September, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Many UN and NGO workers based in Kurmuk have also left for Ethiopia.
"People are still coming in large numbers," Kisut Gebre Egziabher, a spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), told IRIN in Addis Ababa.
"Within two days alone, we have received over 20,000 refugees from Sudan to Ethiopia's Sherkole refugee camp. This might increase as we have not received today's data yet… Based on initial reports, the number of women and children is high," he said.
"Because of the drought in the Horn of Africa, it is very challenging to welcome these new refugees," he said.
"We are worried that [UN] compounds [in Blue Nile] might be looted. Vehicles with GPS devices have already been stolen," said Peter de Clerq, head of the UNHCR mission in Sudan.
The World Food Program (WFP) said it had-0MT of food in Blue Nile, enough to feed 20,000 for two weeks. "There is no chance of restocking for the moment," WFP spokesman Amor Almagro told IRIN in Khartoum.
Call to end hostilities
UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres on 4 September appealed for an immediate halt to hostilities in the state.
"We need, at all costs, to stop yet one more refugee crisis in a region of the world that has been witnessing in recent months so much suffering," he said in Geneva.
Meanwhile, the situation in the nearby state of South Kordofan, where the SAF and SPLM-N have been fighting since early June, displacing or severely affecting some 200,000 civilians, "has reached a critical point", Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said in a statement on 30 August.
"Unless there is an immediate stop to the fighting, and humanitarian organizations are granted immediate and unhindered independent access throughout South Kordofan, people in many parts of the state face potentially catastrophic levels of malnutrition and mortality," she said.
But the SPLM-N has said it will resist the north's "plan to eradicate" it, which Arman alleged "had been designed a long time ago by the National Congress, which fears the role of the SPLM-N as a democratic force in the transformation of the North.
"We vociferously declare that the only option before us is to forge a nationwide democratic front with the agendas of a radical restructuring of the power's center in Khartoum and build a new state that recognizes others and their right to be others," he said.
The NCP "has deliberately chosen war as the only mechanism to eradicate the SPLM-N. The NCP will live to regret this choice as the SPLM-N is there to stay and to lead," he said.
*Names changed to protect identity
- Provided by Integrated Regional Information Networks.
- 9/11 Anniversary Subdued in Many Areas
- Al-Qaeda Lost the Battle Long Ago
- 10 Years of 9/11 Wars is Enough
- Why Al Qaeda is Unlikely to Execute Another 9/11
- One Thing Steve Jobs Couldn't Change: Our Mortality
- What I Did (and Didn't Do) on My Summer Vacation
- 9/11 in Retrospect: Bush's Grand Strategy, Reconsidered
- War Costs Greater Than Acknowledged and Continuing to Climb
- China, the United States, and Global Order
- Palestine Goes to the UN
- Europe's Palestine Problem
- Turkey-Israel: What's next?
- Turkey's Akyol, An Apostle Of The Third Way
- Will Oil Drown the Arab Spring?
- Al Qaeda's Challenge
- Libya's 'Precarious' Transition Ahead
- 7 Challenges for Post-Qadhafi Libya
- To the Shores of Tripoli
- Victory in Tripoli. Bleakness Elsewhere
- Egypt: The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood
- Commanding Democracy in Egypt
- Bahrain Stumbles on Road to Recovery
- Syria's Al-Assad Gets the Picture as Satire Comes to YouTube
- Kurds Unite Amid Onslaught
- Former Israeli Army Chief Says Talk to Hamas
- For Russia New Middle East will be Tough Arms Market
- Arab Spring Still Fails to Deliver on Human Rights
- The Hype and the Reality of China's Economic Rise
- A New Kind of Korea: Building Trust Between Seoul and Pyongyang
- Kim Jong Il's Visit to Russia: Just More Mixed Messages?
- North Korea Accuses South Korea of Plotting to Destroy Its Socialist System
- South Korea Suicide Rate Doubles in 10 Years
- Tokyo's Transformation: How Japan Is Changing
- Credit Suisse Downgrades Forecast for Philippine Economic Growth
- Mexico and the United States: Surgical Strikes in the Drug Wars
- Despite Victory, Argentine Leader Faces Hard Choices
- Chilean 'Model' Is Shaken, but Very Much Alive
- Student Protests May Lead to a Better Chile
- Winds of Change: Uruguay's Sustainable Energy Plans
- Leaving Afghanistan to the Afghans
- Balkan Countries Work To Round Up Privately Held Weapons
- Former Iceland Prime Minister On Trial Over Banking Sector Collapse
- Germany's Rail Set to Run on 100 Percent Renewable Energy
- Divvying up South Sudan
- Somalia Seeks More Troops Against Al-Shabaab
- 20,000 Flee Blue Nile Clashes
- Climate of Fear Ahead of Gambia Presidential Elections
- Hungry Kenyan Families Sending Children Out to Beg
- Somali Border Town Feels the Refugee Pressure
- Cholera Soars in Lake Chad Basin Countries
- Somali Pirates Grow More Daring
- Two Million Hit By Floods in Pakistan's Sindh Province
- Global Health: Meaty Concerns
- Global Health: A Seminal Moment?
- Human Trafficking: The Wound That Shames Our Present
- How New Atrocity-Prevention Steps Can Work
- 9/11 Anniversary: Rethink Needed
- 9/11 Anniversary: From Empire to Decline
- 9/11 Anniversary: Scanning Bodies, Stripping Rights?
- Assassination as Foreign Policy
- Eurozone Manufacturing Slowing
- European Union Spending Cuts and Tax Hikes Hurt GDP Growth
- Who's Worse Off: Europe or the United States?
- Germany: German Tiger or European Growth Engine?
- Greece Forecasts Economic Contraction to be Worse than Expected
- Collateral Deals will Have Negative Impact on Greece
- Spain Announces Temporary Tax Cut to Stimulate New House Sales
- Eastern Mediterranean Olive Oil Producers Seek Markets in Far East
- High North: The New Frontier
- The Politics of the London Riots
- Young Westerners -- Deprived or Decadent?
- Explanations and Excuses for English Riots
- Many British Households See Steeper Rise in Debt
- Young Turks Returning Home to Chase Economic Dreams
- The Pain in Spain
- Multiculturalism and Dutch Political Culture
- Macedonia Eyes Its Future in Antiquity
- The Saudi Counterrevolution
- Libya Threatens to Become Terrorist Arms Depot
- Libya: Protection Challenge For The Opposition
- Libya After Gadhafi: Transitioning from Rebellion to Rule
- Why Are Some Progressives Gloating over Libya?
- Egypt's Reluctant Rulers
- Fear and Blogging in the Arab world
- Middle East: The Future of Women
- Middle East: Bread and Dignity
- Middle East: Palestine Towards Statehood
- Israeli - Arab Crisis Approaching
- The Upcoming Palestinian Uprising
- Israeli Settlements Keep Middle East Unsettled
- Syrian Opposition Tries to Unite
- Assad Rejects International Calls to Resign
- Obama Calls for Syrian President Assad to Step Down
- Cranking up Pressure on Syria
- Violence in Iraq Raises Questions About American Withdrawal
- Egypt's Brotherhood Declares War on the Bikini
- Labor Pains in Saudi Arabia as Hiring Deadline Nears
- Gulf Markets Worry About Oil Outlook
- Jordanian King Promises Reform to Skeptical Public
- China and the United States' Debt
- China's New Aircraft Carrier Bolsters Its Regional Reach
- China Outpaces United States in PC Market
- Moody's Downgrades Japan Credit Rating Over Deficit Concerns
- Kim Jong-Il Pushes China for New Nuclear Talks
- North Korea's Rare Pledge to Abandon Nuclear Activities
- Indonesia: Pluralism vs Vigilantism
- South Sudan: Labor Pains
- Somalia: Pro-government Rally Held in Mogadishu
- Kenya: 'Perfect Storm' Brewing Among Urban Poor
- Latin America's Security Dilemma
- A President-for-Life in Argentina? Not Likely
- There's Hope for Mexico and Central America
- Chile: The Fight to Make Education a Guaranteed Right
- Death of Layton Poses Challenge for NDP Interim Leader
- Global Economic Downturn: A Crisis of Political Economy
- Crisis of Confidence: Debt Debate Erodes US Global Standing
- United States Debt Downgrade Won't Have Much Short-Term Effect on Foreign Policy
- The Empathy Deficit
- Stiglitz Upbeat About China and Latin America
- China Trade Surplus Rises
- China Sees Inflation Rate Hit 6.5%
- Latin America Not Immune to U.S. Debt Deal
- Is Japan Now a Good Bet?
- Is Germany the New Safe Haven?
- Islam and Arab Political Change
- Iran Reshaping Persian Gulf Politics
- Diplomatic Pressure on Al-Assad Gaining Momentum
- Arab Nations Join Call For Al Assad To Stop Civilian Attacks
- Bahrain and Kuwait recall Syria envoys
- Clinton Says Syrian Government has Lost Legitimacy
- September Looms Large in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- Israel's Growing Wealth Gap Fuels Economic Anger
- Israel and Cyprus Forging Ahead on Gas Bonanza
- Major Israeli Defense Merger Dropped
- Israel Approves 1,600 Settler Homes in East Jerusalem
- Mini UAV Chopper For Urban Warfare Revealed
- Roman-era Sword Uncovered in Ancient Ditch in Jerusalem
- Hamas: Palestinian Authority is Clamping Down On Our Preachers
- Warnings of 'Somalization' And All Out Civil War in Yemen
- Missing Out on Vital Medicines Because of Economic Crisis
- Jordanians Lash Out Against Planned Nuclear Reactor
- Jordanian Mosque Named After Jesus
- Troop Withdrawal Rests on Decision From Iraq
- Somali Forces and African Union Peacekeepers Gradually Expand Control In Mogadishu
- Somali President: Combat Operations Against Al-Shabaab Will Continue
- Al-Shabab Pullout: The Beginning Of The End in Somalia?
- Africa: Tough Choices As Food Prices Continue To Rise
- Nigeria: Jail Threat for Polio Vaccination Refuseniks
- Congo: Implement Anti-Discrimination Law, Urge Indigenous Peoples
- Congo: High-Tech Measures To Curb Illegal Fishing In Congo
- Raw Sewage Kills in Madagascar
- Tanzania: Violence Against Children Rampant
- Maternal Deaths Quadruple In South Africa
- United States and Pakistan Navigate New Tensions in Fraught Relationship
- Pakistan's Forgotten 2005 Quake Victims Still Need Help
- China Announces Sea Trial Of Its First Aircraft Carrier
- Indonesia's Global Significance
- Seoul Blasts Pyongyang For Fabricating Shelling Incident
- North Korea Planned Assassination of South Korean Defense Minister
- Calls For End To Torture and Extrajudicial Killings By Bangladeshi Police
- Muslim Rebels Seek Substate In Philippines
- DOJ Places Former Philippine President On Immigration Watchlist
- Britain Sticks With Austerity Plan
- Cameron Announces Crackdown On Facemasks
- Norway: The Sky Is Weeping
- Norway Attacks a Tragic Result of Failed Immigration Policies
- Norway: Blaming the Muslims
- Norway: Breivik's Real Enemy: Himself
- Brazil Joins Race for Globalized Students
- OAS Is a Basket Case - but a Needed One
Available at Amazon.com:
Copyright 2011, AHN - All Rights Reserved