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June 12, 2011

Fleeing civilians hunted 'like animals' by helicopter gunships ling borderland between north and South Sudan

Christian church personnel in Southern Sudan:
This morning we received the sad news that two church personnel were
murdered by government forces in South Kordofan- They are just two amongst a huge number
of murdered civilians. It should be clear to everybody now that this is not simply a case of fighting between SAF ( Khartoum's armies) and SPLA,( southern Forces) nor is it collateral damage; this is a deliberate policy by the Khartoum regime to kill its own citizens. It is ethnic cleansing, and it is not new -this has been done by the current Khartoum regime in the Nuba Mountains before (1990s) and more recently in Darfur. The
international community should stop trying to fudge this- and recognise it for what it is - the deliberate
killing of civilians by their own government. The killing needs to be stopped, and this is the first priority.
John Ashcroft

Friday June 10 2011. Escalating violence against civilians in Sudan's
South Kordofan state is a major humanitarian catastrophe in the making, with an estimated 300,000 people besieged, cut off from relief aid, and unable to escape fighting.

The United Nations estimates that up to 40,000 people have fled fighting between Sudanese government troops, Sudan Armed Forces (SAF),and members of the former southern rebel group, the Sudan People's
Liberation Army (SPLA), in Kadugli, the capital of Sudan's oil-producing border state of South Kordofan. Antonov planes have been seen carrying out aerial bombardment in areas with a significant civilian population. Furthermore, low-flying MIG fighter planes have been used to terrify the displaced people seeking shelter around the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) compound just north of Kadugli.

For the last five days, people have locked themselves in their homes without food or water, for fear of being killed. Others have fled to the Nuba mountains, where they are being hunted down like animals by helicopter gunships, says the Sudan Council of Churches, an umbrella organisation representing all Sudanese churches.

Several eye-witness accounts indicate that SAF troops are carrying out "house-to-house" searches in the towns, pulling out suspected opposition sympathisers and in some cases killing them on spot.

SUdan's Ecumenical Forum co-chair Eberhard Hitzler says urgent action is needed. "A humanitarian crisis on an enormous scale is unfolding in South
Kordofan state. We appeal to the world leaders and governments to pay
attention to this situation and urgently protect people."

Two eyewitnesses saw people, perceived to be SPLA(Southern) sympathisers, dragged out of the
UNMIS compound in Kadugli and executed in front of UNMIS personnel, who did not intervene.
UNMIS - has apparently lost credibility with locals. This is affecting the quality of UN information, as many people are unwilling to speak to UN staff.

Individual churches in the region, have contacted SEF pleading for urgent assistance in bringing the world's attention to the killings.

"The international community, led by the UN Security Council, with the explicit and unwavering support from particularly China, USA, the African Union, the Arab League and the European Union, must urgently take all measures to stop hostilities, protect civilians and allow humanitarian access to all parts of South Kordofan, as a first step to re-engaging the opposing political and military parties in the search for a negotiated solution".

Only such urgent international efforts can halt what is threatening to become a repeat of the mass atrocities, war crimes and protracted humanitarian crisis the world witnessed in neighbouring Darfur over the past decade, in Abyei in recent weeks and during the previous war in the Nuba Mountains in the early 1990s.

Eberhard Hitzler
Co-chair Sudan Ecumenical Forum
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