Dear Mr. President,
I am Bishop Adam Andudu Elnail, Bishop of the Diocese of Kadugli, Episcopal Church of the Sudan. I hope you remember my earlier letters to you in March this year and August 2011.
For over two decades the civil war tore apart my home region of Nuba Mountains, where I have suffered much personal loss of family, friends, and neighbors. This war against the black people of Sudan, many of whom are Muslim, extended to Blue Nile, Darfur and eastern Sudan. Our whole country was and continues to be ravaged by this campaign of genocide, subjugation, and the enslavement of black people.
The suffering of the people of Nuba Mountains started again on June 6, 2011. The Government of Sudan (GoS) and its militias in Kadugli town hit my house with heavy guns, and all valuable things were taken or destroyed. They proceeded to burn the Diocesan offices and Diocesan Guest House in the same hour. From that moment the church leaders and others scattered as displaced or refugees in more than five countries. It pains me to remember many of the young men in my town who were killed in cold blood in the same week.
There are many reports of the continual human rights abuses, mass killings, deaths of children and elderly people, rape and starvation, of the type you heard when you traveled to Chad as United States senator to encourage the people of Darfur. The evidence is strong and clear enough for the ICC to have issued arrest warrants for the sitting president of Sudan, Omer Al Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. You spoke boldly against these atrocities as a senator and during your campaign for president, but President Bashir continues this terrorism today against our people without fear of consequence.
I will never forget the night of June 20, 2012, when at 12:00 midnight my village was awakened by the sound and echoes of the rockets sent from Kadugli by the GoS troops. We thought the mountain was falling on us. People, animals, and birds all got confused – screaming and running in all directions. We went down to fox holes. Some people had to run to caves in the mountains.
On December 23, 2012, and throughout the days of Christmas, the GoS intensified bombardment. Church leaders and their congregations found places other than the churches to worship and celebrate Christmas because the church buildings became too dangerous.
We continue to be bombed from the air daily. Bombs land on farms and schools, churches and mosques, clinics and markets. Innocent civilians, women and children, are killed carrying on their daily lives. Those who survive live in constant fear, and for two years they have lived in caves in the mountains. The Famine Early Warning System for food security in the Nuba Mountains has reached Level 4: starvation is killing a lot of my people in Kao Nyaro and Warni; they suffer greatly. If the political situation is not addressed and aid is not delivered to the people immediately, the catastrophe will grow until it is too late.
Our people feel as though the world has forgotten them. We wonder why you have not acted to end our people’s suffering or that of the people of Darfur, who are still suffering and whose plight is getting worse.
As a victim and survivor of genocide, I would like to remind your respected office that great effort is needed to end the deaths and displacement and restore peace to our community, which has suffered for so many years. Please address the humanitarian crisis in the Nuba Mountains and use your position as leader of the free world, not only to bring attention to our situation, but to cause prompt action to save those still alive.
We remember your promises to the people of Sudan suffering these genocides and are trying not to lose hope. We need to witness your leadership and the acts required by the international community to save our people and our country. Then, we will know that you, too, remember your promises.
With prayer and hope,
The Rt. Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail
Bishop of the Diocese of Kadugli
Episcopal Church of the Sudan
Image by John Robinette, United to End Genocide, via Flickr