Sudan closest to civil war since 2005 peace agreement warns global coalition of NGOS

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With only days before South Sudan is due to secede on 9 July, Sudan is the closest to war that it has been since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between North and South Sudan in January 2005, said a global coalition of NGOs.

In a new report published today, “Beyond the Pledge: International Engagement After Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement”, a coalition of 22 civil society organisations from Sudan, other African countries, Middle East, Europe and the US warn that Northern and Southern Sudan could slip into all-out conflict unless the international community adopts a more robust strategy of engagement, including targeted sanctions.

Unless the international community acts fast to stop conflict along the border, we could be plunged into all-out war again. We have come so far since the bloodiest days of the civil war but could lose it all. International support helped us find peace, now we need urgent help to keep it” said David De Dau, Director of Agency for Independent Media, a Sudanese member of the coalition.

The international community must recalibrate their relationship with North and South Sudan. For the North, this means sustaining pressure on the government to enact genuine political reform and bring an end to the conflict in Darfur. For the South, this means increasing international criticism of corruption and harassment of human rights activists” said Tom Andrews, President, Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition.

The report highlights how, as Northern and Southern leaders move to strengthen their positions before Sudan splits in two, violence between the two sides has escalated alarmingly:
 Recent military attacks along the border in Abyei and Southern Kordofan have had a dire impact on civilians; forcing over 174,000 people to flee and affecting a further 1.4 million people.
 Between January and mid-May 2011, over 117,000 people were displaced and almost 1,400 killed in South Sudan alone, more deaths than in all of 2010
 In Darfur, approximately 70,000 Darfuris were displaced between December 2010 and March 2011, and there were at least 80 Government air strikes against civilian populations from January to April 2011

Democratic reform must not be allowed to slip from the agenda in Sudan. As the Arab world fights for its freedom, oppression and human rights abuses in North Sudan continue unchecked. And in the South, misgovernance and authoritarian rule are increasing. The opportunity to help the people of Sudan will slip through the fingers of the international community unless this is dealt with now” said Osman Hummaida, Sudanese human rights activist and Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.

The report urges the international community to increase the robustness of their engagement on Sudan in response to military aggression by either side by:
 Enforcing a demilitarised zone and deploying peace-keepers along the border
 Increasing targeted sanctions by the European Union and others, including travel bans and asset freezes on those most responsible for the violence
 Withholding debt relief
 Withholding the normalisation of US diplomatic relations
 Withholding benefits of full diplomatic relations

The report also recommends that the UN Security Council should mandate and deploy a successor peacekeeping operation to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) that has protection of civilians as its top priority.

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