It is only 28 days until the partition of Sudan. On 9 July the country will be divided into two. Since the fate of the country was decided in a referendum, people have been moving either north or south, depending on their ethnic or religious allegiance. The referendum was part of the agreement to stop violence and find a way forward for the country after internal conflict of substantial violence.

Hopes for a peaceful transition are bleeding into the ground.

The Diocese of Bradford has very close links with Northern Sudan which is largely Islamic. The newest Anglican Bishop, Saman, came over here for my enthronement as Bishop of Bradford only a few weeks ago. In the last few days military assaults on Christian communities have left churches and homes destroyed, people dead and bishops hunted. This is what is happening on the ground, as reported in heartbreaking messages from Kadugli:

…the fighting took place in June between the Northern SPLA and government soldiers… people have fled and in my house alone there are more than 25 persons excluding  my  family. So I need urgent support to feed and transport some who would like to  proceed to another city or who may like to  return back if the situation becomes stable and that is my hope. hundreds are in El Obeid now and more are on the way to El Obeid…

Yesterday I reported Militia and SAF troops (of the ruling party in Sudan) burning the entire offices of the Diocese of Kadugli (Episcopal Church of the Sudan) plus Cyber Cafe building with all computer and equipment… also mentioned breaking into the  Church House looting all property… With grief today I want inform you that new Cathedral which was build two years ago is burned down. By this we lost everything of the Church in Kadugli Town. The church was targeted. I was informed and warned that the Militia and NCP troops were looking for me as a head of the church, and Rev Luka to get rid of us after they destroyed all property of the church.

Many civilians took refuge in UN Compound at Shair. When the SAF troops came the UN handed the civilians to SAF and were killed. Now SAF are using UN base to fight SPLA troops. We do request urgent intervention of international community to stop the killings and restore peace in the region, and to review  the mandate of the UN in Kadugli.

The Archdeacon of Bradford has summarised the position as follows:

Fighting has broken out in Kadugli which is the capital of South Kordofan – one of the states on the border of north and south Sudan.  UN reports than ten thousand people have fled the city centre and many more have travelled to neighbouring states seeking safe refuge.  Government tanks and soldiers entered Kadugli on Sunday after a police station was attacked by gunmen on Saturday night.  The Government of Sudan has announced that it is ‘cleansing the town of armed rebels’ as it seeks to disarm groups who supported southern Sudan.

Tonight soldiers with guns are roaming round Kadugli stealing whatever they want and shooting can be heard day and night. An unknown number of civilians and troops have been killed. All UN agencies in Kadugli have suspended their activities and withdrawn to the secure UN compound near the airport.  The airport has been seized by the government soldiers and is now closed.  In the city, looting and fighting have reduced after the first clashes.  The capital city Kadugli is now under military control and is still very dangerous; much of the city is deserted.

The fighting is spreading out into the state as the northern government uses tanks and aircraft to flush out armed militias.  These groups had been ordered by the government in Khartoum to leave the state by June 1st as preparation for the split on 9 July. After 1 June, any who remain in South Kordofan ‘are legitimate targets’.

The Diocese of Kadugli has lost motorbikes when the Bishop’s house was broken into whilst Bishop Andudu is away on a visit to the United States. Diocesan office staff fled for safety.  Many people have travelled west to El Obeid (where the next door Anglican Diocese of El Obeid is based) where Bishop Ismail is arranging to feed and help 700 people. The Diocese of Bradford has sent out £1,000 immediately and is raising more funds to send out early next week.

South Kordofan lies in the future North Sudan and is the only oil producing area which the north will retain.  The border between North and South runs  along the southern boundary of South Kordofan and is the home of as many as 60,000 former soldiers who fought for the south against the north.  South Kordofan is close to Abyei where there is still no agreement of where the border will run and there has been a lot of fighting in recent months and many have died.  This is a tense and volatile part of Sudan and could be a flashpoint in any future hostilities between north and south. The north wants to get rid of all subversive elements and has been increasing the presence of troops and tanks for months.

Bishop Ismail has asked for assistance to feed and help up to 700 displaced people in and around his home.  The Diocese of Bradford has sent £1,000 immediately and is raising more funds.  We wait to hear from Bishop Andudu what help we might offer for Kadugli Diocese.

I have issued an appeal this evening and called the churches of the Diocese of Bradford to prayer and generous support this weekend. Anyone else wishing to contribute can send cheques made payable to BDBF, marked ‘Kadugli Appeal’ and sent to: BDBF, Kadugli House, Elmsley Street, Steeton, Keighley BD20 6SE. Updates may be found on the diocesan website at www.bradford.anglican.org.