An American in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains Tells of Sudanese Bombing

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Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

A woman walks towards a cave shelter in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan April 28, 2012. Fleeing aerial bombardment by the Sudanese air force thousands of people have abandoned their homes and made make-shift shelters between the rocks and boulders.

I traveled with Ryan Boyette for a week last month in Sudan‘s Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan. Boyette is an American and former aid worker who has lived in the Nuba for nine years. He built his own house there and, last year, married  a Nuba woman, Jazira. He has testified before Congress and the National Security Council.
When his aid group, Samaritan’s Purse, ordered him to leave last June when the Sudan government attacked Nuba’s rebels, he refused and resigned. Today his house was targeted by a Sudan government  bombing raid. This is what he has to say:
Update-May 11, 2012 – Today I was targeted.
Today at exactly 9:50am the Government of Sudan targeted my wife and I in our house.  An Antonov airplane flew over the house dropping a total of six bombs in a row.  The first bomb landed 30 meters to the west of our house and the second about 50 meters east of our house and the rest of the bombs landed in a line from the first two bombs.
Some friends were visiting me in my house when I heard a Sudanese Government Antonov Airplane.  I went outside and noticed the plane was coming directly for my house.  When I saw the plane coming directly over me, my friends and I  ran behind the house and laid down as quick as possible.  We could hear the bombs falling through the air and within seconds there was a huge explosion less than 30 meters from where we were laying down.  My wife was visiting our neighbor at the time of the bombing.  She also took cover behind a rock very close to where the third bomb exploded.  She saw a large piece of shrapnel fly over her as she laid down.  After all six bombs exploded the plane went back towards the north.
I rushed to find my wife and we were both relieved that neither of us was hurt and we quickly checked with people in the area if any one was wounded or killed by the bombing.  Despite all six bombs landing near homes, only one 75 year old woman named Halima had a small wound on her head.  After treating the old woman’s wound, we then assessed the damage at our house.  Some shrapnel from the first bomb hit our house, causing minor damage to the outside wall and punching a hole in our roof.  My wife and I sat and prayed to thank God that we were ok.
Not a single soldier lives in the village that I live in and it is far from any front line.
I realize that I am now a target.  I have experienced many bombings here in Nuba but today I realize that someone woke up this morning and got in the airplane with the mission to kill me.  This was also the closest bomb that has exploded near me.  I realize the fear that men, women and children have when the bombs are falling on them.
I am not surprised that I have been targeted by the Sudan Government as they  do not want the world to know the truth about what is happening in Sudan.  Recently, Sudanese President] Omar al Bashir made the statement that he will conduct Friday prayers in the SPLA-N [Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North] controlled town of Kauda in Southern Kordofan.  Bashir’s soldiers are far from Kauda and have realized that Bashir’s attempts to overrun the people of Southern Kordofan is his own prideful mission and does not help Sudan as a country.  As a result many of his soldiers have no desire to fight with their brothers in Southern Kordofan.  Since he was unable to enter Kauda, he decided to drop bombs yesterday in Kauda and today at my house.  He drops bombs from an airplane very high in the air in rural civilian areas, where he is unreachable by any weapon of the SPLA-N.
What surprises me more is that the international community is doing nothing to stop the bombings that are affecting the lives of some many people in Nuba.  Many have died, many have been wounded and maimed and even as I write this email people are dying of starvation because they were not able to plant last year due to the daily bombings.  The rainy season is coming.  If the bombing continues and people are not able to plant, more will die.  But yet the international community does nothing.  They write it off as a North/South issue and all they can do is tell Khartoum and Juba to stop, instead of really looking at the core issues of why Sudan has no peace.  Why was there fighting for 21 years between the North and the South that lead a separation? Why has there been fighting in Darfur since 2005 up to now? Why is there protest in Khartoum and the east of Sudan? Why is there all out fighting in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan with aerial bombardment every single day?
The government of Sudan has failed its own people in Nuba, Blue Nile, Darfur, and other parts of Sudan.  The UN, the AU and international governments are failing the people of Sudan by allowing Sudan to bomb its own people.  That is what surprises me.  I have seen how the government of Sudan acts towards its own people for the past nine years so I expect such behavior. But what surprises me is that leaders even in Africa and other international governments are not willing to make a stand against what this government is doing to its own civilians.
Ryan Boyette
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