Last week, Russian Antonov planes bombed the Heiban Bible College in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, Sudan. The Sudanese government denies it was behind the attacks, but eyewitness accounts combined with the government’s history of using Antonovs to attack civilians leaves this proclamation of innocence with little credibility. However, regardless of where the blame lies, it is clear that volatile relations between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan are coming at a massive expense to the civilian population.
Greta Van Sustren of Fox News recently interviewed Reverend Franklin Graham, president of the Christian evangelical group Samaritan’s Purse. The group has supported the Bible College since its founding in 2007. In the interview, Graham notes that this was hardly the first time an institution supported by Samaritan’s Purse was targeted, with previous attacks aimed at schools, hospitals, and designated U.N. food-drop areas. Watch the clip:
Since June, the Sudanese government has been refusing to allow humanitarian aid to reach hundreds of thousands of people living near Sudan’s southern border, causing many to flee to refugee camps in South Sudan. Samaritan’s Purse has begun setting up new initiatives to aid in the influx of people who have been forced from the North. However, these camps offer little respite as they have also been subject to a string of bombings.
Van Sustren observed, “I don’t think people realize the number of people this involves…we have so much attention on other ‘hot spots’ in the world, but this has an enormous impact on thousands of people.” Graham validated this observation, noting that there are 300,000 Christians and 400,000 Muslims living peacefully together in the region, yet the Sudanese government continues to indiscriminately attack both groups.
Fox News’ coverage of the Bible College bombing is a welcome boost in attention to the need for greater U.S. engagement in the region. It generates more urgency for the government to seriously consider the recommendations made by a coalition of human rights groups in a letter sent to U.S. Ambassador Rice last week. The letter urged the U.S. to “take a leading role in planning a cross-border aid operation into Sudan to ensure delivery of much needed food and medicine to vulnerable populations in the war-torn South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.”