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Amnesty condemns Darfur brutality

07 October 2016

UN/ERIC KANALSTEIN

Flashpoint: peacekeepers and UN police officers with the UN Mission in South Sudan conduct a weapons and contraband search near the Jebel area on Juba, in July

Flashpoint: peacekeepers and UN police officers with the UN Mission in South Sudan conduct a weapons and contraband search near the Jebel area o...

AT LEAST 30 chemical attacks have taken place in Darfur, “credible reports” received by Amnesty International have said.

Satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth telephone interviews, and specialist analysis of images showing babies and young children with “terrible injuries” suggest that 30 attacks took place in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur this year, most recently on 9 September, the charity says.

“The scale and brutality of these attacks is hard to put into words,” Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Research, Tirana Hassan, said. Images showed young children covered in lesions and blisters, she said. “Some were unable to breathe and vomiting blood.”

Amnesty International estimates that between 200 and 250 people may have died as a result of the attacks, for which it holds the Sudanese government responsible. It says that two independent chemical-weapons experts have concluded that the evidence suggested exposure to blister agents, such as mustard gas.

“The evidence we have gathered is credible, and portrays a regime that is intent on directing attacks against the civilian population in Darfur without any fear of international retribution,” Ms Hassan said. The international community’s response to the actions of the Sudanese military was “deplorable”.

Jebel Marra is the site of ongoing fighting between the government and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid. The Sudanese UN Ambassador, Omer Dahab Fadl, has said that the Amnesty allegations are “baseless and fabricated”.

On Thursday, Baroness Cox, the founder of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, said that the report was “entirely consistent with the genocidal policies perpetrated by the government of Sudan, which we have personally witnessed in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State, where the regime has been carrying out aerial bombardment of its own citizens, with countless civilians killed, injured, forced to hide in caves with deadly snakes, prevented from harvesting crops, and suffering widespread starvation (News, 6 April).

“It is therefore even more disturbing that the UK Government supports the Khartoum Process, which is providing legitimacy as well as financial and other support to this regime in Khartoum, headed by a President indicted by the International Criminal Court for previous atrocities perpetrated against the people of Darfur.”

The Khartoum Process, led by the African Union and the European Commission, seeks to address migration from the Horn of Africa to Europe, including human trafficking. The UK Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan, Christopher Trott, made his first visit to Khartoum last month. He was “optimistic about UK-Sudan relations” and called for humanitarian access in Darfur.

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