Living in St. John’s, Wad-Alnuba (not his real name) has a regular job and has access to food to feed his family. He is free to move as he may like.
In his homeland of Sudan, family and friends living in the Nuba Mountains region constantly face the threat of attacks by military aircraft. Some people hide in caves to avoid being targeted.
Food is scarce and farmland that once provided sustenance can no longer be used. Children have lost limbs, women have been raped, and many have chosen to seek safety in South Sudan, with hundreds of thousands now trying to survive in refugee camps.
The situation back home is something Wad-Alnuba cannot help but think about on a daily basis. “If the government is bombarding the area every single day using Antonov (aircraft), helicopters, I have to be (worried),” he said.
Wad-Alnuba does not want to be identified by name for the fear that his family back home may be targeted further. An Arabic phrase, it translates into ‘son of Nuba.’
He came to St. John’s in 2007 to seek a better life. Omar al-Bashir became president in 1989 following a military coup, and since then, people living in Wad-Alnuba’s region and the Blue Nile state have been persecuted, he said.
“The Nuba people are the indigenous people of the Republic of Sudan,” said Wad-Alnuba. “We speak different languages, but we have a very similar culture in the Nuba Mountains.”
He said the destruction of farmland threatens people’s lives, and the violence is part of what Wad-Alnuba considers to be a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
“We are considered as second-class citizens. ... You can’t find a job and you can’t move freely.”
In 2011, Sudan was separated into two countries — the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.
The plight of the persecuted Sudanese recently received more attention following the arrest this month of actor and filmmaker George Clooney at a protest outside Sudan’s embassy in Washington. Several American congressmen and members of the House of Representatives were also arrested and later released along with Clooney’s father, journalist Nick Clooney.
Wad-Alnuba said informing the public about events in Sudan has been difficult given the government’s unwillingness to allow foreign journalists into the country.
George Clooney met with U.S. President Barack Obama the day before his arrest following a secret eight-day visit to South Kordofan, where the Nuba Mountains are located.
Wad-Alnuba was shocked when he learned Clooney had been able to get into the region.
“I don’t know how he got in there and got all this information,” said Wad-Alnuba of Clooney, who shot video footage that has since been posted online.
To help the situation, Wad-Alnuba said people need to pressure the Canadian government to take a more active role in convincing the Sudanese government to halt air attacks in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile.
“We want a no-fly-zone in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile, because if there is (a) no-fly-zone, there is no bombardment.”
According to friends of Wad-Alnuba living in Sudan, attacks took place Wednesday in the villages of Silara, Kurmati, Kakara and Tundia, amongst others.
“We need the international community and the people of Newfoundland and the Canadian government to put pressure on al-Bashir’s government to stop all of this.”
Violence on the ground also needs to cease, and he said people here can make donations to charitable groups with connections to Sudan to help provide much needed food, water and medicine.
“We need humanitarian aid as soon as possible to avoid a crisis.”