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At an Impasse: The Conflict in Blue Nile 0

In early September 2011, long-standing tensions between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N)— consisting of northern troops of the movement that fought for South Sudan’s separation—pulled Blue Nile back into war. The military escalation marked the conclusive failure of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) for the ‘two areas’—South Kordofan and Blue Nile—and the emergence of yet anotherinsurgency in the border area with the recently created state of South Sudan.

Following a path similar to the one taken three months earlier in South Kordofan, a skirmish between a contingent of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and a convoy of the SPLM-N Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) at the southern gate of Blue Nile’s capital city, ed Damazin, quickly ignited a large-scale conflict involving the national army and paramilitary groups against the SPLM-N 2nd Division.

In only a few weeks, the conflict mobilized tens of thousands of troops, including locally recruited, government-equipped militias, significant

military resources, and aerial bombardments. It resulted in a major humanitarian crisis in the southern part of Blue Nile, severely affecting some

250,000 people and generating immediate repercussions in neighbouring South Sudan and Ethiopia (UNHCR, 2013 a–d; SRRA, 2012). This

Working Paper analyses the first two years of the renewed conflict— which took place from September 2011 to June 2013. It is largely based on field research conducted in southern Blue Nile and South Sudan in November and December 2012.

The paper elaborates on trends that characterize the conflict, underlining similarities and differences with the war the SPLM-N is also fighting in South Kordofan; presents the primary armed actors; identifies the military hardware used by both camps; and describes the mechanisms established by the government to supply local militias and paramilitary forces. The paper also reviews the evolution of the crisis in Blue Nile in terms of its devastating security and humanitarian impacts on civilians, as well as on the domestic and regional political landscape.

To continue reading, download the Working Paper, click here.

By Claudio GramizziSmall Arms Survey

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