Testimony of John Prendergast, Co-Founder of Enough Project, before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights, and International Organizations on U.S. policy on Sudan and South Sudan given on February 26, 2014.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Bass, at this extremely vulnerable moment in the history of Sudan and South Sudan.
A little over three years ago, in advance of the referendum for South Sudan’s independence, the great fear of Sudanese and the broader international community was the potential for a return to war between the north and south of the country, a war that was perhaps the second deadliest globally since World War II. That crisis was averted because of immense international pressure, which resulted in a peaceful referendum and the birth of the world’s newest country, demonstrating the power of preventive U.S. diplomacy when the international community is united, proactive, and engaged.
Today, however, the biggest threats to the people of Sudan and South Sudan are raging civil wars within their own countries. Mass atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the context of wars in both countries. Although the headlines for the last two months have been dominated by conflagration in South Sudan, conditions in Sudan’s Darfur region have deteriorated, and the government’s bombing campaigns have intensified in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The potential for a complete interruption in oil production threatens economies in both countries with implosion and bankruptcy. Conflict has interrupted the planting season, and with the rainy season fast approaching, humanitarian crises are spiraling out of control in both countries.
The threat does not end at the two countries’ borders, however. South Sudan’s eruption has threatened to regionalize the war in ways not seen since the 1990s. On the one hand, Uganda has overtly intervened militarily in support of Juba’s government. On the other hand, allegations are increasing that both Eritrea and Sudan are covertly providing support to the South Sudanese opposition forces, though firm evidence has yet to emerge. Sudan’s history of supporting some of the ringleaders of South Sudan’s armed opposition is deep, and South Sudan-supported Sudanese rebels are alleged to be siding militarily with Juba’s forces in areas near the border of the two countries. Both countries still remain deeply interconnected and in many ways interdependent, and neither can be at peace if its neighbor is at war. Ethiopia has strongly warned Uganda to pull out its forces, with an unknown “or else” attached.