At present, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced from their homes in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states – areas that are part of what is now (northern) Sudan, but which are substantially populated by people who sided with the South during the 1983-2005 civil war.
Those fleeing are driven by desperate hunger, a lack of water, and air attacks. There is no accurate census for the numbers who have reached refugee camps in the South (in the Unity and Upper Nile states), but data suggest that the figure is approaching 300,000.
The conditions in the camps are terrible, almost indescribably so – although there have been urgent dispatches from relief organizations for weeks. As rain pours down, one camp is under water; transportation to many locations is now impossible. People are living, sleeping, and tending children in mud. Latrines have flooded and drinking water is completely unfit for consumption (captured rainwater cannot begin to compensate for reliable water bore-holes).
Hundreds are dying of dehydration, and MSF estimates that mortality in one Upper Nile camp is twice the threshold for conditions defined by the UN as a humanitarian emergency. Others arrive so malnourished and exhausted that they perish on the spot.
Why are these people fleeing into such desperate circumstances? For over a year now – first in South Kordofan and then in Blue Nile – the Khartoum regime has used its military aircraft to attack civilians and agricultural production. Planes have bombed villages, forcing people to flee for caves and ravines.