South Kordofan/Blue Nile Coordinating Unit Humanitarian Update

Overview [all emphases in bold and orange bold have been added; all commentary is in blue italics followed by my initials–ER] |

  • Blue Nile continues to face a dire humanitarian situation with thousands displaced by violence and flooding. Initial estimates put the number of internally displaced around 27,000, over a third of the population.

  • Heavy rains and displacement threatens the 2018 harvest in Blue Nile, creating a very poor food security outlook.

  • Active fighting and human rights concerns continue in and around Blue Nile, more assistance is badly needed to address the ongoing conflict.

  • New details from Kaw and Warni suggest the shrinking population faces a dire humanitarian situation.

Food Security and Agriculture

South Kordofan

Overall food security improved throughout the SPLA-N controlled Central Region and Western Jebels as the early harvest continued. As previously reported, the 2017/2018 harvest will likely improve over the last year’s for these areas, though is expected to fall short of the ten-year average. Rainfall was sufficient but sporadic during the growing season, with periods of abnormally low rainfall and episodes of flooding which damaged some crops.

As there is no cease-fire or peace agreement substantial portions of agriculture along frontlines remain inaccessible to the population. This has depressed agricultural output for many communities throughout the central and western regions, reducing overall potential output for the region. The impact of this will be felt throughout 2018. This conflict related food insecurity was most pronounced in Heiban county, which faced the heaviest fighting and hosts the greatest number of displaced persons. Severe food insecurity was 27% in this county, per the latest FSMU report [This should be the most urgent concern to the international community and UN humanitarian agencies in particular; tragically, it is not–ER] .[1]

The SKBN CU was able to conduct a series of key informant interviews with residents of Warni, Kaw, Fungor, and Nyaro payams to provide an overview of the humanitarian situation in this difficult to reach area. This region, often referred to as Kaw-Warni has been completely isolated by conflict. Cut off from refugee camps in South Sudan, lacking the ability to cross into Government of Sudan areas, and unable to travel to any other SPLA-N region, little is known of this region but the situation is fear to be among the worst in Sudan and South Sudan.

The population inside is now estimated to be less than 25,000 people. This is a reduction of more than half since the outbreak of the conflict. This group of people have largely lost access to farmland after the outbreak of the conflict in 2011 and live on swampy land, generally unusable for agriculture.

The small agriculture which is possible typically only provides enough food to last until late March of each year. This results in a six-month gap between food stores depleting and the following harvest.

  • [1] FSMU July/August 2017 Food Security Brief

With few coping strategies available people are forced to either subsist on wild foods like leaves and roots of trees, or risk crossing multiple frontlines to reach assistance. There were reports of hunger related deaths and malnutrition is reportedly endemic. [This is the direct result of Khartoum’s continuing, barbaric humanitarian embargo on the region–and the international community accepts this in the interest of rapprochement with the genocidal Khartoum regime–ER]

Blue Nile

Blue Nile remains in a crisis with a substantial portion of the population displaced by conflict. A recent assessment by the CU indicated there were at least 27,000 individuals displaced as during September. This correlates closely with the previous assessment by FSMU showing 39% of the population severely food insecure. This group of people are facing a dire situation. Many have completely lost access to agriculture. With 11% of the population at the highest level of food insecurity (6 out of 6 on the Household Hunger Scale), urgent help is needed. [It is simply outrageous that there is no international response to this level of malnutrition and food insecurity–ER]

As crossing to refugee camps remains very dangerous, displaced people in need of assistance face a challenging choice to risk their lives to cross to the refugee camps of South Sudan. Agreements between warring parties to end the conflict are desperately needed to bring aid to a population in dire need.

It remains unclear exactly how much agriculture was lost to conflict or flooding, and staple prices remain high as commodities in markets are still in short supply. Prices vary throughout the region, but have generally reached untenable levels for the population.[2]Without access to cash to encourage trade within the region it is unlikely external food will enter local markets in sufficient quantities.

Health and Nutrition

South Kordofan

Consistent with seasonal norms, cases of malaria appear to have substantially increased in September. Local clinics reported being overwhelmed by cases of malaria in all locations the CU was able to assess. Access to trained medical staff and appropriate drugs is highly limited for most of the population, and currently there are not adequate statistics on specific needs of the population. More medical capacity is sorely needed to address the needs of nearly a million people in SPLM/A-N areas of South Kordofan. [Again, this is the direct result of the continuation of Khartoum’s humanitarian embargo on the region–now of more than six years duration–ER]

Cases of acute watery diarrhea, caused by the Vibrio Cholera bacteria, continue to kill people throughout the southern portion of Sudan. [3] This presents a particularly concerning threat to the Western Region, where a recent survey showed access to medical care as practically nonexistent. [Outrageously, the UN agencies most responsible–the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) continue to refuse to use the world “cholera” in describing the disease, even as they report its “decline”–a moral disgracing of these UN agencies and all they purportedly represent–ER]

Immediate and chronic malnutrition is a major challenge in South Kordofan remains a serious problem. As previously reported, global malnutrition and severe malnutrition based on height for weight were 23.9% and 8.4% in the Central Region and slightly worse in the Western Jebels at 29.2% and 9.3% respectively.[4]

  • [2]SKBN CU August 2017 field monitoring activities

  • [3]

  • [4]SKBN CU SMART Survey Report

Blue Nile

Reports of Acute Watery Diarrhoea just north of the SPLA-N and Government of Sudan frontline increase concerns of the illness spreading into the region. [The disease is cholera–ER] This is an immediate concern as access to health care in Blue Nile is highly limited and few clinics have the needed drugs to deal with such an outbreak.