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Sudan’s civil war is not winnable, says bishop

10 April 2015

THE people of South Kordofan, where fighting has now raged for four years, "cannot stand the civil war any longer", a Sudanese bishop has said.

The Bishop of Kadugli, the Rt Revd Andudu Elnail, said last month that peace was "the only option. . . No one can win this war, and our people are the losers. For a while, both SPLA [Sudan People's Liberation Army] and the army of Khartoum believed they could win the civil war. But now, after almost four years, both parties must wake up and be realistic. We are fighting a war that is costly in terms of human lives, it destroys our lands, and no one is able to win this war anyway."

Conflict has marred South Kordofan since South Sudan seceded in 2011. The government has recently stepped up attempts to crush the insurgency mounted by a rebel group made up largely of soldiers who fought in the civil war. An attempt in December by the African Union to broker a ceasefire failed. Operations by Médecins Sans Frontières in South Kordofan were suspended in January, after a hospital was bombed.

The President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, is currently seeking re-election after 25 years in power. He has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in connection with atrocities in Darfur.

In February, Reuters reported that mainstream opposition leaders in Sudan had called for a nationwide boycott of the presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place on 13 April, and called for the President's removal.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the UN Security Council to establish an international commission of inquiry into abuses in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Its latest report on the country says that, after government forces were deployed to the region, dozens of civilians were killed or injured. The attacks "forced tens of thousands of people . . . to abandon their homes and fields".

Speaking during a visit to Cairo, now home to thousands of people displaced from his region, including his mother, Bishop Elnail said: "It makes me sick to be far from her and that she has to live in such squalor. Our churches are burned, our fields bombarded, our people killed. We have had too much war and suffering. Too many of our people are scattered in exile. . . We want to return to our Nuba Mountains, to Sudan."

Archbishop meets Tony Blair. Mr Blair met the Archbishop of Canterbury last month to discuss the persecution of Christians, including those in Sudan, The Sunday Times reported this week. A spokeswoman for Archbishop Welby confirmed that they had met: "Persecution of Christians is a deep concern of the Archbishop's . . . which, in common with other people, he invariably highlights at these meetings in order to seek broader support for action."

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