UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Sudan’s indiscriminate bombing of the rebellious South Kordofan province is stoking a developing crisis by displacing thousands of people and disrupting crop planting, Amnesty International said Tuesday. The human rights group said the situation was likely to get worse as food supplies dwindle and the rainy season cuts off roads, making relief missions impossible.
Amnesty International urged the U.N. Security Council and African Union to take immediate steps to make Sudan halt the indiscriminate attacks and bring pressure to quickly open conflict-affected areas to humanitarian relief.
“The international community continues to watch this catastrophe unfold as the humanitarian situation worsens in conflict-affected areas of Southern Kordofan. It’s time for some concerted action,” said Khairunissa Dhala, Amnesty International’s South Sudan researcher. “Indiscriminate attacks must immediately cease and the international community must bring pressure to bear on the Sudanese authorities to grant immediate and unhindered humanitarian access.”
A call seeking reaction from Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, was not returned on Tuesday.
South Kordofan borders the new nation of South Sudan, which peacefully broke away from Sudan in 2011 under an agreement that ended decades of civil war. Many of South Kordofan’s 1.1 million people are sympathetic to South Sudan and are in territory controlled by the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North.
“The Sudanese authorities are harassing, arresting and detaining a number of people who are speaking out about the situation inside Sudan,” Dhala said.
Amnesty International is seriously concerned about the health of a number of women who have been detained because of their alleged affiliation to the political wing of the South Sudan rebels. Thirty-two in total have been held without charge or access to a lawyer for over five months, Dhala sid.
Amnesty International said it has documented bombings by Sudan’s air force carried out during key planting and harvesting periods that have caused severe damage to people’s livelihoods. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, the majority of internally displaced people are likely to face crisis levels of food security by the time the rainy season starts in the next few weeks.
The bombings have also severely disrupted daily activities such as farming and education, Amnesty said. Where schooling is still possible, it takes place in open spaces, so that teachers and pupils can run to seek shelter in nearby foxholes and caves.
As the conflict ensues, the number of people fleeing to South Sudan as refugees is rapidly increasing and more continue to arrive every day. More than 70,000 people have fled to Yida camp in South Sudan’s Unity State, while the U.N. anticipates that the number of refugees there will reach 100,000 by May.
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