Khartoum’s continuing crimes against humanity – letter from Glenys Kinnock and David Alton to The Guardian:
Today Sudan’s comprehensive peace agreement – which ended a war that lasted more than two decades, killed nearly 2 million people and displaced 4 million – will expire. Yet there is still conflict and mounting tension in parts of Sudan, and, as we write this letter, violence and suffering continues in Southern Kordofan state.
We have heard reports over the past two weeks of terrible atrocities committed on the basis of ethnic and political affiliation, and tens of thousands of people have been displaced as they flee aerial bombardment. The UN secretary general has called on parties to ensure the protection of vulnerable civilians and full humanitarian access to those in need in Southern Kordofan, yet there has been little progress in reaching the displaced and, as the violence persists, the living conditions of these people will continue to decline.We welcome the framework agreement on Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states signed in Addis Ababa on 28 June, but translating it into lasting peace will require sustained support from the international community. This remains true for the whole of the CPA and the legacy it leaves behind, and indeed there are many issues still to be resolved such as oil revenue sharing and the fate of the border areas. Both North and South Sudan will have monumental challenges to face.
This Saturday will be a day of hope for Southern Sudanese everywhere but, once the celebrations are over, the government of South Sudan will face the prospect of grappling with some of the worst development indicators in the world as it builds a brand new state from scratch. At the same time the north will face its own challenges as it adapts to these monumental changes, with a significant impact on its economy, and needs encouragement and help in ushering in reform. As a guarantor of the CPA and a member of the group of observer countries that helped to broker the agreement, the UK has a key role andresponsibility to the peoples of Sudan which will continue beyond today. And, as the UN security council discussions on the future of the UN mission in Sudan draw to an end in New York, we call for a strong UN mission with a robust mandate that includes protection of civilians.
The international community has invested a great deal in this peace process, yet these investments may be squandered if this commitment ends with the CPA. The two countries need continued engagement, long-term, predictable funding, and a swift and effective response. And, while the UN mission in Sudan has been criticised for its failure to protect civilians, it is still a necessary presence. When South Sudan declares independence today (Report, G2, 8 July) and the Unmis troops prepare to leave the north for good, will they take the very last of the world’s attention with them?