As co-founder and co-chair of the Sudan Caucus, I recently expressed my grave concern over the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the southern Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Along with a number of my colleagues in the House, we relayed that concern in a letter to Ambassador Susan Rice, the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. We highlighted the Government of Sudan's unresponsiveness to Resolution 2046, which was adopted by the UN Security Council in May of 2012. That resolution outlined the need for humanitarian access to both South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Despite signing a memorandum of understanding, the Government of Sudan has still not provided humanitarian access to the region. In our letter to Ambassador Rice, we urge the Security Council to be vigilant and follow through on a commitment to impose sanctions if the Government of Sudan refuses to meet the conditions outlined in Resolution 2046. Their refusal is endangering lives.
In a related piece of news, South Sudan and Sudan signed new agreements this week that set the stage for resumed oil production that will bring income to both countries (another aspect of UN Security Council Resolution 2046). The deal also provides for a demilitarized border zone, which is, in theory, a good step forward. There are a number of troubling omissions from the agreements, though: the contested border region of Abyei is left out, as is border demarcation and any mention of the crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It should be noted that Omar al-Bashir's government in Khartoum has signed over 40 "agreements" and followed through on almost none. I am eager to see progress in the negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan, but I view this week's developments with some skepticism.