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Crisis in Sudan as bombing targets civilians

25 January 2013


Sudan: premises of the Episcopal Church, visited by Bishop Baines

Sudan: premises of the Episcopal Church, visited by Bishop Baines

THE Sudanese government is "continuing to kill its own people with impunity", the CEO of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), Baroness Cox, said last week, after visiting the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile regions of Sudan.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme this week, Lady Cox said: "If the international community continues to fail to intervene in ways which will stop this ethnic cleansing of the peoples of the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, it will be seen as complicit." Lady Cox said that 230 bombs had been dropped on civilians in Blue Nile state in one month alone; in Southern Kordafan, 30 bombs a day had been dropped on civilians.

"They can't harvest their crops; they can't get food; they're dying in their own country, or forced to flee into exile."

The President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, had reneged on an agreement to allow aid organisations access to Blue Nile, Lady Cox said. "So there's virtually no health care in Blue Nile; there's no immunisation; people are dying of hunger. One village we visited, 400 people had died of hunger. We've got to get aid to those people."

Lady Cox said that the British Government had said that "it wants to continue to talking to Khartoum. Well, that's fine, but Khartoum . . . uses talking to buy time for its own genocidal policies."

Lady Cox called on the British Government to set up an independent committee "to investigate what are prima facie crimes against humanity". She also called for "targeted sanctions" against the government in Khartoum "to stop the aerial bombardment of its own people".

Last Friday, the Bishop of Kadugli, the Rt Revd Andudu Adam Elnail, whose diocese is in the Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan, met the former UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Sudan, Dr Mukesh Kapila, to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the region. Bishop Elnail and Dr Kapila both called on the African Union (AU) to address the crisis when it meets in Addis Adaba today.

In a statement issued by Crisis Action, an NGO, Bishop Elnail said: "This is a war of horror where children are dying every day. There are no vaccinations, medicine; there is nothing. In December, there were over 230 bombings. We are calling for AU leadership at its summit next week. This is a rare opportunity that we mustn't miss."

Dr Kapila said: "Ten years ago, when I was UN chief in Darfur, I tried to alert the world to what was happening, but it was too late. Today, in Southern Kordofon and Blue Nile, I've seen 'Darfur plus plus', with modern weaponry at play. I appeal to the AU to look at the humanitarian situation as a priority."

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, said during a visit to Sudan last week that the creation of a separate state of South Sudan ( News, 15 July 2011) had resulted in the forced departure of south Sudanese.

Writing his blog, Bishop Baines said that the Episcopal Church of the Sudan was "suffering from the forced departure of southerners - many of whom exercised leadership and responsibility in and through the Church".


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