An intense bombing campaign has been unleashed by the government in Khartoum apparently against rebels of the SPLM North. But the aim of the current campaign seems to be to break the civilian population. The Catholic Mother of Mercy Hospital has been hit, causing the European Union to express its concern at the attack. The United States and Canada say they are ‘appalled’ – but nothing appears to be being done.
Albaqir Afif – of KACE (see below) to whom I have spoken – says the new threat is particularly deadly: the newer more modern jets arrive fast and low, giving civilians no time to hide in foxholes they have dug. “The casualties are terrible,” he said. “The bombs seem to be cluster munitions, with some exploding hours or days after they are dropped.”
Below is the appeal from KACE and 35 other agencies.
International community must act to end Sudan’s “unprecedented and intense” bombing of civilians
A coalition of 36 organizations providing humanitarian assistance or supporting peace efforts in Sudan has written to the UN Security Council, the African Union Peace and Security Council and the League of Arab States demanding an end to the “targeting of civilians by the Government of Sudan and associated armed militia” and an independent investigation of recent attacks.
According to their letter, the recent bombing has reached an intensity that is “unprecedented” in the history of the conflict in South Kordofan which reached its third year anniversary this month.
The coalition states that attacks on civilians and their property are occurring far from the frontlines of the conflict where there are no military targets, and therefore may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. They require immediate and impartial investigation to establish the facts and responsibility for any crimes committed.
These coordinated air and ground attacks are part of an escalating military campaign across the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) and Darfur which the Government of Sudan has publicly proclaimed is designed to crush the protracted armed rebellions.
The coalition has presented the UN Security Council, African Union and League of Arab States with verified evidence from the ground to back up its claims. Video footage and photographs show the destruction over four days in late May when close to 60 bombs were dropped from jets and Antonov aircraft on Kauda, the unofficial capital of rebel territory in South Kordofan. Many of these bombs landed in the Kauda market, some directly hit the main local humanitarian organisation, and others fell close to two schools. They followed the bombing of the main hospital in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan on 1st May.
There are further reports from monitors on the ground of systematic looting, mass displacement (over 100,000 people in April/May mostly in South Kordofan), the destruction of grain stores and water boreholes, and the burning of houses in areas previously under rebel control. The coalition considers these reports credible and believes responsibility for many of these attacks lies with the Rapid Support Forces, a government-sponsored militia that comprises many former Janjaweed militias who wrought havoc on civilians in Darfur a decade ago.
“Civilians are being terrorized. They are too frightened to leave their foxholes and caves to plant their crops, which means the suffering will only worsen when they have nothing to harvest in a few months time” said Najwa Konda, Executive Director of Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organisation. The UN estimates that over 900,000 people are either internally displaced or ‘severely affected’ by the conflict in rebel-held areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
“We fear that the international community is standing by while the Government of Sudan is unleashing a brutal campaign of terror on its own people, and once again using hunger as a weapon of war”, said Suliman Baldo of Sudan Democracy First Group. “We appeal to these international and regional protectors of peace and security to step in to stop the violence and end the impunity” said Albaqir Mukhtar of Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development.
Signatories to this release are as follows:
1. Ahmed H. Adam, visiting scholar and Co-chair of the Two Sudans Project, Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR), Columbia University
2. Algeria League for Defence of Human Rights
3. Arab Coalition for Sudan (ACS)
4. Arab Foundation for Civil Society and Human Rights Support
5. Arab Institute for Democracy (Tunisia)
6. Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
7. Arab Organisation for Human Rights (Libya)
8. Arab Organisation for Human Rights (Mauritania)
9. Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA)
10. Assistance Mission for Africa (AMA)
11. Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO)
13. Darfur Bar Association
14. Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre
15. Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect
16. Governance Bureau – Sudan
17. Human Rights First Saudi Arabia
18. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)
19. International Centre for Policy and Conflict
20. International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
21. Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE)
22. Kush Incorporated
23. Media Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (Shams Centre) – Palestine
24. New Sudan Council of Churches
25. PAX Christi
27. Presbyterian Church (USA)
28. Society for Threatened Peoples – Germany
29. South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy
30. Sudan Consortium
31. Sudan Democracy First (SDFG)
32. Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA)
33. Sudan Social Development Organisation UK (SUDO UK)
34. United to End Genocide
35. Waging Peace
36. Zarga Organisation for Rural Development (ZORD) – Sudan