The quickly deteriorating conditions in Sudan represent perhaps the most compelling case for an international intervention under the evolving "responsibility to protect" concept. Unfortunately with that idea—and the NATO air campaign it inspired—bogged down in Libya, the hard truth is that it may prove impossible to pull together the substantial assets on the ground that will be required to put an end to the violence and protect noncombatants from further harm.
After weeks of building tension and small clashes, open combat has broken out between northern and southern forces in South Kordofan state's capital of Kadugli, which sits along the disputed border of Sudan and Southern Sudan (due to become independent July 9). According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Aid about 40,000, people have fled from Kadugli, which has been under aerial assault by Northern forces.
Catholic News Service reports that two church workers were murdered by North Sudan soldiers forces in Sudan's South Kordofan state in what one church adviser called part of a campaign of "ethnic cleansing." According to CNS:
John Ashworth, an adviser to the Sudan Ecumenical Forum, which includes the Catholic Church, would not elaborate on the religious affiliation of the church workers, who were killed June 11 after two days in detention. He told Catholic News Service that he could not be more specific because church officials on the ground were becoming more nervous about drawing attention to the church.
The two were among "a huge number of murdered civilians," Ashworth said, referring to a "deliberate policy by the Khartoum regime to kill its own citizens. It is ethnic cleansing, and it is not new," he said in an email.
Ashworth said the people being killed are Nuba, an indigenous people of Sudan.
"The international community should stop trying to fudge this as part of the North-South conflict," he said. "The killing needs to be stopped, and this is the first priority." . . . Coadjutor Bishop Michael Didi Adgum Mangoria of El Obeid, the diocese that includes South Kordofan state, said the entire population of the city of Kadugli had fled.
On a positive note, both North and South Sudan governments have agreed in principle the demilitarization of Abyei and the deployment of Ethiopian soldiers as a buffer force. That deal was worked out between the two sides of the Abyei line and the African Union. Perhaps a similar vigorous engagement from its neighbors will be enough to push both sides likewise a step back from the abyss in South Kordafon.
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