Blacks, largely pro-south civilians in the Nuba Mountains, attempted to flee aerial bombings by the Sudanese military. According to Compass Direct News, humanitarian aid workers report that the “ethnic cleansing” that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has undertaken against black Africans in the Nuba Mountains is also aimed at ridding the area of Christianity. Bashir’s military strikes are directed at Muslims as well as Christians, but churches and Christians are especially targeted, reported one humanitarian worker on condition of anonymity. “The ongoing war against Christians and African indigenous people is more of an ‘ethnic cleansing’ in that they kill all black people, including Muslims, but they give specific connotation to the war in targeting Christians to secure funding and support from the Arab and Islamic world by saying this war is a religious war,” he said. “And in so doing, they get huge support from those countries.”
The Nuba Mountains are in South Kordofan state in Sudan, on the border with the newly created nation of South Sudan. They are home to sympathizers of the southern military that fought against northern forces during Sudan’s long civil war, and were a major battleground during Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war. Hostilities broke out again June 2011 as Khartoum moved to assert its authority against gunmen formerly allied to the now independent South Sudan. The conflict between Bashir’s forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) spread from South Kordofan to Sudan’s Blue Nile state in September 2011.
A February 25th aerial bombardment from Antonov airplanes killed the five members of the Asaja Dalami Kuku family, members of the Episcopal Church of Sudan in the Nuba Mountain village of Umsirdipa, a source said. Between June 2011 and March 2012, four church buildings have been destroyed, said another humanitarian worker. “On August 18, 2011, the Sudanese Church of Christ building was razed to ashes,” the worker said. Earlier, state-sponsored militia destroyed the office of the Sudan Council of Churches at Kadugli, along with its vehicle, according to the sources.
“In addition to aerial strikes, state-sponsored militia are targeting churches and Christian families,” a humanitarian worker said. “The brutal state-sponsored militias are moving from house to house searching for Christian and African indigenous homes as the government continues with air strikes.” The Satellite Sentinel Project has gathered evidence that Antonov aircraft have indiscriminately bombed civilian populations in South Kordofan, although after a recent crash, the government has said it will no longer use the planes.
In Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan, at least four church buildings have been razed and more than 20 Christians killed. On February 26, three church leaders, led by Bishop Daniel Deng of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, visited the devastated areas of Kaduguli and then presented grievances to the government. They were surprised that the government denied the attacks on the church buildings. “A government official said [southern and other] militia groups were the ones destroying the churches, and not the government,” one of the aid workers explained.
The United Nations estimates the conflict has displaced 400,000 people, with 300,000 in danger of starving within a month. The U.N. Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 185,000 of the refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile are now in South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Sudan’s Interim National Constitution holds up sharia (Islamic law) as a source of legislation, and the laws and policies of the government favor Islam, according to a U.S. Department of State report. On several occasions in the past year, Bashir has warned that Sudan’s constitution will become more firmly entrenched in sharia.
When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to decide for themselves whether to join the North or the South, but the state governor, who is wanted for war crimes, suspended the process, and Khartoum instead decided to disarm the SPLM-N by force.
“The church and enfeebled women and children have become victims of this fight,” one of the humanitarian workers said. “We as the church have a moral and spiritual obligation to stand with our brothers and sisters who are suffering in the Nuba Mountains.”
Father, we come before You on behalf of the Nuba people in Sudan, many of whom serve You. We call on You to protect them from attack and intervene to bring peace for these people. May Your Word go forth and may it bring them peace and courage as they face the threat of death daily. Raise us up to stand beside them in prayer daily. Increase their faith, and ours. In the name of Jesus our protector, Amen.