News / Africa

Sudan: Blue Nile State Weighs its Future

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Sudan’s Blue Nile State did not take part in the just completed independence referendum in Southern Sudan.  Technically part of the north, its sympathies often sided with the south during the long civil war.  Now, its residents are wondering what their relationship with the Khartoum government will be if the south breaks away.

Irish Journalist Simon Roughneen toured the region while the south voted on succession.

He says, “Blue Nile State is sort of a border land on the north-south border.  It’s actually further south geographically than Upper Nile (State), which is nearby….  During the war it was one of the most heavily contested areas.  The people are mainly Muslim like the rest of the north of Sudan, which Blue Nile State is politically a part of and going to be part of even if the south does secede, which seems almost certain.”

Upper Nile State is part of Southern Sudan.

Roughneen says the people of Blue Nile State “fought alongside the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) to a large degree, especially in the more southern part of Blue Nile State, which is of course closer to what will be the formal north-south border.”

What next?

“There is a bit of dismay there because the people are not getting to vote on whether they have a new political status in the new…two Sudans going forward.  They’re getting something called ‘popular consultation,’ along with another state called South Kordofan further to the west.  This popular consultation is aimed at giving the people in Blue Nile and South Kordofan some form of self determination and some form of say over their status in northern Sudan or whatever the constitution arrangements are,” he says.

There were polling centers in Blue Nile State for the southern referendum. These were set-up for people in the state who were considered southern Sudanese.  However, Roughneen says many voters crossed the border and cast their ballots in the south because they thought voting might be rigged in Blue Nile State.

“I was at a couple of the voting stations in Blue Nile during the course of the week, and they were almost empty. They were desolate.  And it was a huge contrast between that and what I had seen in Juba where there were huge queues on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of the week of voting,” he says.

Living conditions

Roughneen says conditions on Blue Nile State are very much like Southern Sudan.

“Southern Sudan has long been one of the most desolate, deprived, under developed areas in the world,” he says, “The 20 years plus civil war left a devastated region.  Even now the capital Juba has around 40 kilometers or so of paved road, but that’s the only paved road in the whole region, which is bigger than France and Belgium put together.”

Roughneen says NGOs are providing assistance in Blue Nile State, including the Irish group, GOAL, which receives funds from USAID.

“They are doing a lot of primary health care, education, water and sanitation projects,” he says.  However, aid operations in the state are fewer than those found in Southern Sudan in general, where U.N. and other agencies have had a presence for years.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid