With escalating tensions in Sudan's border region, fears are rising over a possible descent into all-out war with South Sudan. Over the three last days, air strikes and tank battles have been witnessed in the oil-rich town of Heglig in the state of South Kordofan, a year after South Sudan gained its independence in January 2011.
In a press release issued Thursday by a number of civil society organisations on the daunting possibility of a return to war, the prospective cost to the international community was set at $100 billion.
The coalition, made up of African and Arab civil society organisations, includes the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, the Arab Coalition for Darfur, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
The NGO coalition insists on the increasing urgency of the situation amid key international meetings that were to be held Thursday, including the Arab League summit in Baghdad and the Sudan and South Sudan Consultative Forum in Ethiopia, the latter of which was delayed until further notice.
The coalition noted Thursday: "This is the moment for African and Arab Leaders to call upon their Sudanese and South Sudanese counterparts to desist from their deadly path and recommit to the peaceful resolution of their unfinished business as a matter of utmost urgency."
Drawing on the 2010 report, "The Cost of Future Conflict in Sudan," by Frontier Economics Limited, in event of war an expected $50 billion would be lost in the combined GDP of the Juba and Khartoum governments. An additional $25 billion would be lost by neighbouring countries, and $30 billion lost in peacekeeping operations by the international community.
On Wednesday, the two governments vowed they would not launch a war on each other. But a meeting between envoys from Sudan and South Sudan that was expected to take place Thursday was postponed indefinitely.
The border crisis between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan comes seven years after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought an end the 22-year-old civil war between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. An estimated two million people were killed in Sudan and four million displaced between 1983 and 2005.