Drawing upon the voices of cultural leaders to protect and assist the vulnerable, marginalized and displaced.
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As far as the eye could see, thousands of displaced people were scattered, accompanied by what little they had left in the world.This surreal vista, which we saw visiting Abyei in January, had no shelters but had big beds and suitcases and dresser drawers sitting in the open or under trees.After years of displacement, thanks to the north-south war that raged in Sudan from 1983 to 2005, thousands of Sudanese had begun the long journey home. They hoped to vote that month in the referendum on southern independence.
But they never voted, because the government in Khartoum wouldn’t allow the plebescite to take place in Abyei, and they never resettled, because they had no support to return after so long. So thousands hunkered down in this Connecticut-size region between North and South Sudan, two historically separate territories that were lumped together at independence in 1956 and whose racial and religious divides have chafed since. Last week the long history of tensions ignited when Khartoum sent its army and allied militias to forcibly occupy the area. The regime engaged in aerial bombing, tank and artillery attacks. Its militias looted and burned villages.
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has identified Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) equipped with heavy armor and artillery at the El Obeid Barracks, approximately 270 miles from Abyei town, possibly preparing for deployment to southern areas. Based on analysis of available transportation logistics and the formation of the units, SSP has concluded that the forces there are capable of imminent forward movement.
The force includes troop units of at least company size, towable artillery pieces, main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and Heavy Equipment Transports capable of reaching Sudan’s North-South border or Abyei town in less than a day.
For the past month, South Sudan has been engulfed in an expanding civil war. Unlike Sudan, where the Satellite Sentinel Project pioneered its work, with a few limited exceptions, South Sudan’s government has been allowing both journalists and humanitarians to operate around the country, even as violence spreads. As a result, harrowing videos, interviews, and photographs documenting the crisis have been emerging for weeks.
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations convened to hear testimony from panel experts and discuss the role of the United States in the, “Situation in South Sudan.” Panel experts included the Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, the Honorable Nancy Lindborg, the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, the Honorable Princeton Lyman, former Special Envoy for Sudan, Mr. John Prendergast, Not On Our Watch board member, and the Honorable Kate Almquist Knopf, Adjunct Faculty at the National Defense University.
Sudan and South Sudan policy analyst Akshaya Kumar's op-ed originally appeared on the Daily Beast.
At the end of October, I wrote about how the Satellite Sentinel Project observed ominous troop movements that warned against an impending attack on civilians in Sudan’s South Kordofan state. Since then, the Sudanese government has launched a multi-front military campaign in the area. At the same time, it has escalated the tempo of aerial bombardment and resumed its scorched earth campaign against civilians. South Kordofan Governor Adam Al-Faki has vowed to conduct a “comprehensive cleanup campaign” and the Minister of Defense said his troops will “not stop until we crush them.” We predicted these developments, but we didn't want to be right. Without a commitment from international policymakers to push for real change, this deadly violence will continue.
Thousands of vulnerable civilians in Sudan’s South Kordofan state are fleeing as a wave of aerial bombardments and a series of ground attacks sweep Buram and Dilling counties. Clashes between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, or SRF, rebel coalition have recently intensified in the area, and South Kordofan Governor Adam Al-Faki has vowed to conduct a “comprehensive cleanup campaign” against the rebels. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, says that attacks in South Kordofan between November 21 and 25 displaced some 25,000 civilians from the Nuba Mountains.
Our partner the Enough Project has released a needs assessment conducted by anonymous researchers with access to rebel-held parts of Sudan’s South Kordofan state. An independent humanitarian expert has endorsed the methodology of the study, “Life in the Nuba Mountains” which paints a holistic picture of a place where internationals are not given permission to enter.
This report offers a holistic assessment of humanitarian needs in South Kordofan state, based on field research conducted in July–August 2013 by anonymous researchers. Due to security concerns, the organization wishes to remain anonymous but requested that the Enough Project publish the report. Given the lack of access to these rebel-held areas, there has been little information made public about the situation on the ground. This report strives to fill in some of these gaps.An independent humanitarian expert, Steven Hansch, has endorsed the methodology of the study, “Life in the Nuba Mountains” which paints a holistic picture of a place where internationals are not given permission to enter. The accompanying policy brief, “Aid as a Weapon of War in Sudan,” offers a way forward.