Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (II): War in Blue Nile
18 Jun 2013
The war in Sudan’s Blue Nile state will grind on until the Khartoum government re-engages in national dialogue with opposition forces, including the Blue Nile rebels.
“Blue Nile state is a microcosm of Sudan. It is inhabited by an array of communities and deeply divided between ‘indigenous’ and Arab and non-Arab ‘newcomers’. Khartoum needs to enfranchise the citizens of Blue Nile if it is to stabilise its own future”
Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director
In its latest report, Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (II): War in Blue Nile, the International Crisis Group examines the war in Blue Nile, which was renewed in 2011 when South Sudan became independent and Sudan’s ruling party, the National Congress Party, became less disposed than ever to decentralising power and redistributing resource wealth.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
- The Blue Nile conflict has displaced about 15 per cent of the state’s population across the border in South Sudan or Ethiopia, while another 20 per cent are displaced or severely affected within the state. All parties should allow independent, international humanitarian aid in Blue Nile, including in the small rebel-controlled areas – regardless of whether the aid comes from government-controlled areas or neighbouring countries.
- Blue Nile state is, with South Kordofan, one of the “two areas” whose fate was left in abeyance by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the war between North and South Sudan and led eventually to independence for South Sudan. The current conflict’s local and national dimensions are more intermingled than ever, and it will not end conclusively without a truly comprehensive national dialogue between the Khartoum government and both armed and unarmed oppositions.
- Blue Nile has long been marginalised, its natural wealth mostly enriching elites in Khartoum. This pattern of internal inequity is at the root of conflict in Blue Nile and elsewhere in Sudan. While local processes to restore Blue Nile’s social fabric should not be ignored, only an inclusive, national dialogue will be able to address the root causes of the conflicts between Sudan’s peripheries and its centre.
“Blue Nile was not prepared for war”, said Cedric Barnes, Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project Director. “When it started, members of all political parties had reached some kind of consensus to get more autonomy from Khartoum. Many say war has been imposed on the state by hardliners in the centre as well as by rebels fighting in other peripheries. The result is that while Sudanese rebels are more united than ever, Blue Nile’s society is increasingly fragmented”.
“Blue Nile state is a microcosm of Sudan”, said Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “It is inhabited by an array of communities and deeply divided between ‘indigenous’ and Arab and non-Arab ‘newcomers’. Khartoum needs to enfranchise the citizens of Blue Nile if it is to stabilise its own future”.