Bishop Warns of “Impending Genocide in Sudan”

Nuba Mountains in South Kurdufan, Sudan. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement did not give the people of Nuba Mountains the right to join independent Southern Sudan

A Catholic bishop in Sudan has warned of a possible new genocide in the country.

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid Diocese warned of further problems in South Kordofan, on the border between north and south Sudan, where there has been fierce fighting since the beginning of June.

He warned, “After Darfur, there is now a new impending genocide in Sudan.”

Fighting in Sudan’s north-south border state of South Kordofan started on June 6, when the north Sudanese army attacked the state capital, Kadugli, carrying out airstrikes near there and Kauda.

Among the targets were Christian churches and parish centers – one Protestant minister was killed.

Bishop Macram Gassis of El Obeid, Sudan

Bishop Gassis, whose diocese covers the region, said, “Hundreds of thousands have now fled the area.”

“The situation of the people in South Kordofan is extremely critical, especially in the capital, Kadugli.”

According to the United Nations, at least 60,000 people have fled the bombing in the region.

The bishop explained that the Nuba people, who are regarded by the north as second-class citizens, are among those hardest hit – both Muslims and Christians.

Observers in the area described the events as a targeted campaign and spoke of “ethnic cleansing.”

Many in the oil-rich Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan expressed the view that they should be part of the new country of South Sudan.

The south of Sudan voted by an overwhelming majority for independence from the north, and will officially become an independent nation on July 9, 2011.

During Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war, the Nuba people fought on the side of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement, which still controls the region.

Displaced persons from Darfur violence find refuge in make-shift shelters

While both the north Sudanese army and the SPLA entered into negotiations to cease hostilities on Thursday, June 16, after nearly two weeks of ongoing fighting, there are fears that conflict may continue. 

One of the causes of the recent violence was an attempt by the north Sudanese army to disarm SPLA forces in the region, following a demand that troops be withdrawn.

Just over a week before negotiations began, the SPLM’s Yasir Arman cautioned, “Disarming the SPLA north, if it continues, will bring a big crisis.”

Together with Abyei and Blue Nile, South Kordofan is one of three frontier regions between north and south whose status has still not been settled following January’s referendum.

The governor of South Kordofan, Ahmed Mohammad Haroun, is currently being sought by the international criminal court, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org