A young girl grinds some grain in the shade of her home in the Nuba Mountains. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
A young girl grinds some grain in the shade of her home in the Nuba Mountains. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

The war planes may have gone and the bombings stopped, thanks to a ceasefire, but the people of Sudan’s Nuba Mountains are now battling another enemy: hunger.

Six years of civil war between Sudan’s government troops and the SPLM-N rebels, fighting for self-determination, has destroyed communities and infrastructure in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, southern Sudan.

It has resulted in hundreds of thousands of displaced people, humanitarian aid blocked and markets made inaccessible. The severe drought affecting most of East Africa has exacerbated the situation further. Basic services such as medical support and education are almost non-existent. Those suffering most are widows and children.

“There was no rain and we are facing a food shortage,” one church leader told World Watch Monitor. “We are very concerned that our people will not be able to sustain themselves for much longer”.

“Eventually some will cross into government controlled areas, and that will be disastrous,” he said. “They will run into inhumane soldiers. Young girls are especially at risk. We really need support, but not enough aid is coming in.”

The international charity Open Doors is one of the organisations trying to help by bringing in emergency food (sorghum and beans) to 12,500 widows and children, along with basic medicine and mosquito nets.

Education continues

Despite the bombings and instability, the Nuba people have tried to continue living as normal. Schools have continued, although they often lacked proper shelters, textbooks and other school supplies, and faced the continued threat of bombings. When it became too dangerous to attend school in their classrooms, they continued to meet in riverbeds and in the bush.

The ceasefire, in place since August last year, has allowed them to go back to their schools.

Elsewhere a community celebrated the graduation of 18 students of a Bible college. Though the college lacks sophisticated facilities and training took place in a war zone, students managed to continue their studies.

They try to make the most of this time of relative peace because no-one knows when the bombings will start again. The ceasefire is part of a deal with the US towards the lifting of economic sanctions. But many of the locals fear that once the sanctions have lifted, Khartoum will fail to uphold its part of the agreement, which includes the total cessation of hostilities and allowing humanitarian aid to reach conflict zones.