25 January 2013

Sudan: Civil Societies Call for Peace in Sudan

Addis Ababa — The African Union meeting on Sudan on January 25 launched an appeal on peace in Sudan with 350 African civil societies in Addis Ababa.

The meeting's main agenda is to stop the war between the Sudanese army and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

In its appeal, the coalition of civil societies points out that for over 18 months more than 700,000 civilians mostly women, children and the elderly, have been living in precarious conditions in the territories of the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which is subjected to aerial bombing of civilians by the Sudanese Armed Forces.

The coalition calls on African leaders to take decisive and firm action to demand an end to the violence and avoid losing an entire generation of children through war.

The signatories demanded a cease of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian assistance for all civilians in need, and direct talks between the two parties to peacefully resolve their long-standing grievances.

The conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile is one of the forgotten wars of Africa and the world.

Last November, Mgr Macram Max Gassis, the Bishop of El Obeid, in an interview with Fides had launched a dramatic appeal to remember the civilian victims of the Nubi Mountains, which are part of South Kordofan.

Meanwhile leaders arriving at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa must seize the window of opportunity to take giant steps towards peace in eastern DR Congo, international agency Oxfam has said. It called on the AU to urgently step up its response to the enormous human suffering in the region.

Since the M23 armed group withdrew from Goma after capturing the city in November last year, global attention on the conflict has decreased, yet people are still fleeing attacks on their villages and daily looting and extortion by more than 25 armed groups. In North Kivu alone, some 910,000 people are still displaced with few basic services and little protection from violence.

Desire Assogbavi, the head of Oxfam's office at the AU, said: "Years of international policies in eastern DR Congo have failed to end people's suffering, and now is the time for the African Union to step up. The next few days offer a crucial opportunity for our continent's leaders to put an end to this unacceptable crisis. The lives of hundreds of thousands of African citizens are at stake here."

A recent Oxfam assessment around the town of Masisi in North Kivu found tens of thousands of people living in terror. Water points and infrastructure have been destroyed and cholera and other diseases are spreading fast as aid agencies are unable to properly respond due to ongoing fighting.

There are now more than 60 camps in the area as people flee attacks by armed groups and Oxfam is scaling up its work in Rubaya, where around 40,000 people are now sheltering in a camp with no clean water. 150,000 displaced people are still living in camps around the city of Goma, Oxfam said.

Oxfam said the AU step up its support and push the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) - made up of 12 African nations - to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

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