Brother and sister in a Nuba Mountains village in 2018. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty
Thursday was a remarkable day in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, with senior officials including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visiting the rebel stronghold for the first time in a decade alongside officials from the UN, which was itself forced out of the area in 2011.
The big picture: The region remained part of Sudan after South Sudan broke away in 2011. That led to a rebellion that was put down through a relentless bombing campaign. The war-ravaged area remained almost entirely cut off from international aid until now.
- That all happened on the brutal watch of dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled last April after a popular uprising and replaced by a government that includes both generals and civilians.
What they're saying: David Beasley, chief of the UN’s World Food Program and a former South Carolina governor, helped facilitate dialogue between that government and rebel leader Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, who joined Hamdok on Thursday for a meeting that was rich in symbolism and hope.
- “It’s earth-breaking, it’s historic, it’s remarkable to see these two leaders who represent such a history of war, conflict and division come together with a new spirit. It was so great to see this take place today,” Beasley told Axios in a phone interview after taking part in the meeting.
- “When you think about how much has been achieved in the last 90 days, we really are on the right track. It’s unprecedented."
Where things stand: The political situation remains precarious, as does access to food and other resources.
- “The next 12 months are going to be critical to Sudan,” Beasley told Axios. “They're going to need the international community to step up in a significant way. And I believe Sudan, they will make the changes that need to be made. But in this economic transition, there’s going to have to be substantial humanitarian support.”