Sudan: Attacks in South Kordofan ‘constitute war crimes

New report documents:

  • * targeting of civilians, schools, hospitals and local relief organizations
  • * indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground offensives
  • * use of cluster munitions and prohibited weapons

Government forces in Sudan have committed war crimes against the civilian population of South Kordofan, Amnesty International has definitively confirmed for the first time in a new report published today.

The report, Don’t we matter? Four years of unrelenting attacks against Civilians of Sudan’s South Kordofan State, chronicles the human cost of the conflict which has claimed hundreds of civilian lives and sparked a dire humanitarian crisis. It finds that indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground offensives as well as the deliberate targeting of schools and hospitals constitute war crimes.

For years Sudanese Armed Forces have been raining down bombs and shells indiscriminately on civilian populations, destroying lives and livelihoods and triggering a major humanitarian crisis.
Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s ‎Deputy Regional Director.

“For years Sudanese Armed Forces have been raining down bombs and shells indiscriminately on civilian populations, destroying lives and livelihoods and triggering a major humanitarian crisis,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s ‎Deputy Regional Director.

“Targeting civilian infrastructure and civilian areas which have no legitimate military objective, using prohibited weapons and other weapons in an indiscriminate way are war crimes. It is time for the international community to stop averting its gaze from South Kordofan and take urgent action to end this conflict.”

Conclusive evidence of war crimes

Based on a research mission to the country, Amnesty International has found that Sudanese Armed Forces have targeted civilian areas and infrastructure which have no legitimate military objective.

The use of prohibited weapons – such as cluster bombs – launched from high flying aircraft, has resulted in civilian casualties. Amnesty International found cluster munitions at four sites in two separate locations in Dalami and Umm Dorain counties and heard testimony of how children have been killed playing with unexploded ordinance.

Between January and April 2015, the Sudanese Air Force dropped more than 374 bombs on 60 locations across South Kordofan under the control of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N). The aerial bombardments and ground shelling over this period resulted in the deaths of at least 35 civilians, injured a further 70 individuals, and damaged civilian buildings including schools.

Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, 26 health facilities (hospitals, clinics and health units) have been bombed in SPLA-N controlled areas, some of which were clearly identified with flags and crosses on their roofs. Only two out of four hospitals in SPLA-N controlled areas are still functioning.

Alfadil Khalifa Mohamed described to Amnesty International how an Antonov aircraft bombing raid killed his pregnant wife and unborn child in an IDP camp where they sought refuge in Dalami county on 6 February. “The bomb fell, only about ten metres from where she was standing. I ran to where she was, but she was already dead. Our baby was still alive. But there was no medical treatment available to save the baby’s life.”

The bombing campaign has left many afraid to work in their fields with devastating consequences for food security. The intensification of bombings during harvest time and the planting season raises concerns that this might be part of a deliberate strategy by the Sudanese government to hinder people’s ability to cultivate their crops.

Salha, an internally displaced person in Kimli IDP site, told Amnesty International researchers: “We haven’t planted anything for the past two years. We couldn’t because we had to run away. We are too afraid to work in our fields.”

Humanitarian crisis

The Sudanese government has refused to allow humanitarian relief into areas controlled by the SPLA-N exacerbating a protracted humanitarian crisis and has leaving the population without access to vaccinations and essential medicines. Children in SPLA-N controlled areas in South Kordofan are excluded from an ongoing UNICEF/WHO immunization campaign against measles in Sudan. Between May 2014 and January 2015 an outbreak of measles claimed the lives of at least 30 of these children in one hospital alone.

Massive displacement has left around one-third of South Kordofan’s population of approximately 1.4 million people internally displaced, living in precarious and insecure conditions. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, close to 100,000 people have fled to refugee camps in neighbouring South Sudan, itself wracked by internal conflict.

“We have been telling the world but nothing changes”

Despite the ongoing conflict, now in its fifth year, and escalation of attacks in recent months, the regional and international response has all but ceased. There has been no UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on South Kordofan since 2012. Recent UNSC resolutions and statements failed to address concerns in South Kordofan. African Union (AU) efforts to mediate the conflict between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-N, facilitated by the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, ground to a halt in December 2014.

We have been telling the world for four years about what is happening to us. The facts are well known. But nothing changes.
Alfadil Khalifa Mohamed , a local school teacher.

Alfadil Khalifa Mohamed, told Amnesty International: “We have been telling the world for four years about what is happening to us. The facts are well known. But nothing changes.”

Amnesty International is calling on the UNSC and the AU Peace and Security Council, to put pressure on the Government of Sudan and SPLM-N to allow for unfettered humanitarian access in South Kordofan.

“This conflict has settled into a vicious deadlock and international bodies must urgently re-engage in order to end these grave human rights violations and war crimes and to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice,” said Michelle Kagari.

“War crimes cannot be allowed to be committed with impunity and a population facing a protracted humanitarian crisis can no longer be ignored by the world.”

Central African Republic: Security Council condemns attacks that killed peacekeeper

Peacekeepers serving with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). UN Photo/Catianne Tijerina

3 August 2015 &#150 The members of the Security Council condemned today in the strongest terms the attacks against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), which were perpetrated on Sunday in Bangui and resulted in the death of one peacekeeper.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of the peacekeeper killed and to the Government of Cameroon, and to MINUSCA. The members of the Security Council wished a speedy recovery to those injured,” they said in a statement issued to the press.

MINUSCA peacekeepers were attacked by an armed group during a search operation intended to arrest a suspected criminal in application of a judicial warrant from the Public Prosecutor of Bangui. Eight peacekeepers were injured. Three suspects were arrested during the operation.

The members of the Security Council underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

“They called on the Central African authorities to swiftly investigate, with the assistance of MINUSCA, this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice,” added the statement.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN chief condemns killing of peacekeeper in Central African Republic

Employees in South Darfur’s Gireida docked to cover expenses


A teacher in Darfur (file photo).

Authorities in Gireida, South Darfur, have decided to deduct SDG17 ($2.80) from their employees’ salaries this month to cover some of the locality’s expenses.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga from Gireida, a listener reported that the executive director of the locality, El Hadi Hamed Suleiman, and the head of the Gireida security apparatus announced the SDG17 deduction on Sunday.

The money will partly be spent on a reception to be held on the occasion of the new commissioner of Gireida, he explained. “The other half of the amount will be used to pay compensation to someone, whose camel was found killed in the locality.”

The population of Gireida strongly denounced the decision, saying that the state is responsible for the expenses on receptions of this kind, “not the citizens”.

He said that the majority of the affected employees are teachers, “who should be able to do their job undisturbed by such frustrating measures”.

Djibouti, Ethiopia, S. Sudan and Sudan to Form New Trade Corridor

Djibouti, Ethiopia, S. Sudan and Sudan agreed to form a logistics authority called the Djibouti Corridor Authority (DCA) and a One Stop Border Post development project to facilitate the transit of goods and passengers. The authority will aim to accelerate economic activity in the region and is expected to start operating by the end of the year.

The four countries reached a consensus to form the authority in order to develop the Djibouti corridor and benefit all member nations. The formation of the sub-regional body provides an efficient and effective route for the transportation of goods by land and sea between the respective countries.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) drafted the regulation that will govern the DCA.
The draft regulation was tabled for a two-day expert panel discussion on June 22 at Friendship International Hotel in Addis Ababa. Ministers and representatives of the member states amended the draft, which was forwarded for approval on the third day.

The document states that countries should grant each other the right of transit in order to facilitate the movement of goods throughout the region.

“The Djibouti Corridor is available to imports and exports from corridor member states as an efficient economic addition to other trade routes, probably the most cost effective,” the draft document explained.

The DCA will also facilitate mutually beneficial business partnership between member states. The cost effective system deployed by the authority will encourage the implementation of ongoing bilateral projects.

Customs offices present on either side of a given border are also obliged to improved customs transit procedures and the implementation of joint customs control.

Tekletsadik Reba, State Minister of Transport, told Capital that the DCA will significantly benefit member countries, as it will considerably reduce transportation cost.

“We can be competitive in the international market if the transport cost declines significantly,” Tekletsadik noted.
The two landlocked countries in the corridor, Ethiopia and South Sudan, will gain from increased access to the two ports in Sudan and Djibouti, experts commented.

Ministers of the four countries are expected to sign the amended agreement in Djibouti next month.
Djibouti and Ethiopia have expressed their interest to host the DCA secretariat. The headquarters’ location will be decided at an upcoming conference in Djibouti.

Another similar organization, the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA), was established in 1985 in Eastern Africa by five countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Donat M. Bagula, Executive Secretary of NCTTCA, briefly presented the operation of the authority and shared experiences with the participants.

The Northern corridor is the transport corridor linking the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi with Kenya’s maritime port of Mombasa. Similarly, the Northern Corridor serves the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan and Northern Tanzania.

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