June 17, 2011
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum today expressed its deep concern about reports of violence that threatens the lives of thousands of civilians in the Nuba Mountains region of Sudan.
The current violence is occurring in the context of renewed fighting between armed forces associated with southern Sudan and those of the Sudanese government in Khartoum. While detailed and verified information is difficult to acquire, the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and individuals on the ground have reported aerial bombardments, ground assaults, extrajudicial killings, displacement and dire humanitarian conditions. The information suggests that in the lead up to South Sudan’s independence on July 9, the Nuba people are being targeted by the Sudanese government, and a humanitarian crisis is unfolding.
The Sudanese government’s obstruction of international access to vulnerable groups is compounding the crisis, allowing atrocities to be committed outside the spotlight of international attention.
Michael Abramowitz, director of the Committee on Conscience, the Museum’s genocide prevention program, said: “The government of Sudan must return to negotiations as the only venue for addressing outstanding issues ahead of South Sudan’s independence on July 9.” He added, “The government must allow humanitarian access to displaced populations, as well as access by the media and independent observers. Without accurate information about conditions in the Nuba Mountains, we can have no assurance that civilians will be protected from targeted acts of violence and other abuses.”
The forces of Sudan have a track record of atrocities in the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan. This area is home to the Nuba people, who were allies of southern forces during the decades-long civil war, but who will remain in the north after southern independence. Victims of violence throughout the decades-long war between the north and south, the Nuba were targeted from 1992-1993 by the Khartoum government with some of the most severe episodes of systematic mass killing during Sudan’s civil war. Far from the eyes of the world, the Nuba were decimated, resulting in the death of some 100,000 civilians – almost ten percent of the population.
The Museum also expressed concern about violence in other regions of Sudan, notably the disputed region of Abyei, Darfur, and internal fighting in the south, during the volatile lead up to southern independence.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.