The Nuba Mountains Region is one of the areas most affected during the recent years by the war between the SPLM/A and the NCP/Sudanese Government. After the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Nuba mountains has been one of the areas of most interest to donors, international NGOs and UN agencies. It has been the location of recovery and rehabilitation programs focused on peace and reconciliation and community reintegration.
In the critical time of the last two years President Bashir decided to send all the active NGOs away from Sudan because of the ICC warrant against him. This led to an end to recovery and rehabilitation programs in the area.
The war started up again when the NCP decided to disarm the SPLA Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) in the region. Children and women have been particularly vulnerable in the resulting conflict and tens of thousands have been displaced from South Kordofan.
It is estimated that 800 children are displaced daily due to the conflict. The war started in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan. I have personally witnessed many of the Kadugli residents who were forced to flee their homes due to the conflict. About half of them were children, many of whom had been separated from their families and were forced to face survival on their own. Unaccompanied and separated children are significantly more prone to illness, exploitation, and denial of access to basic needs.
When the fighting became serious in Kadugli many of the civilian population moved to Ashair near the UNIMS H.Q. This is 15 km away from the town. We passed through 4 check points to arrive there. When we arrived, after overcoming many obstacles, I received a report from 4 women that the police has arrested their children. The 6 children were aged between 15 to 19 years. Two of the women were from Miree, one from Shaat and the other one was from Mourta (Nuba ethnic groups). I don’t want to mention their names because of security concerns.
On the second day, around 10:20 AM, five cases of rape were reported to me. The victims were all under age, the youngest was just 11 years old and was suffering greatly. The Egyptian clinic decided to refer her to Obait Hospital.
Special police forces, which are locally dubbed Abu-taira (father of bird), and other security members were moving up and down arresting people who were perceived to have supported the SPLM in the last election. They were beating and killing those they targetted in front of their relatives. When I saw how the children were suffering and how others were dying with no protection and no assistance I decided to leave the place with two friends.
When we reached the top of the mountain we found many people including women and children suffering with no food and shelter. They were unprotected under direct heavy rain. Among these people I met with one of the street boys that I knew from Kadugli market. I had been dealing with him in my protection role. He asked me, “can you assist me?” I answered him, “how I can assist you?” He replied, “direct me to the SPLA barracks.”
He explained that his friend Ortin had been shot down by the 'Abu-taira,' wounding him in his leg, and that now he is in the hospital. I asked him what happened? He said that the 'Abu-taira' were mobilizing all the street boys trying to recruit them into the Nagger battalion of the Sudan army for 250 Sudanese pounds salary in order to fight beside them. He said “when we refuse and run away they shoot us from behind.”
I told him that I was sorry for his friend and that he did well to help his friend to go the hospital. He stopped me and said “no, I will be going to find a way to have a gun, even if this war ends I will keep after them for ever for shooting my friend!”
We spent 4 days on the mountains and then we decided to try to go to a safe area because we had been in the crossfire with no food and clean water. We were 15 including 3 women 4 children.
We moved to the East, directly passing through Murta-sharik. We found many displaced people there, many of them were crying. We met with the village community leader. We asked him what had happened and why those people were crying. He said that 30 minutes earlier the Arab militia had passed looking for someone who was from their village and was perceived to have supported the SPLM/A. They wanted to kill him.
As they went looking for him they found five girls. They raped them. Their ages were from 15 to 20 years old. They kidnapped two other girls and took them to Kadugli. We met the families of the victims and we tried to provide them with some counselling. We took photos and I advised them not to put themselves in further danger by following the militia, but rather to report this case to UNMIS and let them follow up this case. When finished the discussion the village chief provided food to us. Then many families decided to accompany us because they were not feeling secure and our number increased to 37 including women and children. We passed through five further villages. We reached Umsrdiba on the second day. When we arrived there we found the place was full of displaced people who had arrived before us. They had come from different areas.
The following day we met with Umdurain Commissioner Marcko Lotelo. We told him about the situation of the group we have arrived with and asked him to assist them in transportation to Kauda. We spent one more day there and then the Commissioner sent one vehicle to carry only the women and children (in two trips) As a result of lack of fuel the remaining 15 men had to move to Kauda on foot and only arrived the following day.
When we reached Kauda we found the place empty. The people had left their houses because they had been under heavy air bombardment. This had resulted in five deaths including a woman who was 8 months pregnant. One other child and six persons were seriously wounded.
Kauda continue to be insecure because of air strikes. As a result the civilian population decided to spend the day time in the mountains and to come back down home at night. They were hiding in the mountain caves, running for their lives.
Through these experiences I have seen many Nuba children suffering terribly ever day. Many were forced tp walk long distances up to 130 Km and more. Many were separated from their families, many were hungry. Children has been abused, raped, recruited, and exploited. Many children are severely traumatized as a result of these experiences.
Children in the Nuba Mountains are facing an extremely difficult life with no access to food and clean water, no home and no shelter, no medicine, no nothing. The Government does not even care about them. As is demonstrated by the latest Kurchi heavy bombardment which killed 15 people, most of whom were children.
This is what I experienced myself and there are many, many others whom I did not see who are experiencing the same situation in other areas of the Nuba region. It makes me want to scream, in the name of humanity, for all international community to stop this violence against children. And to urge concerned NGOs to take urgent action to provide for the desperate needs.