End the targeting of civilians in Sudan!

Based on a press release provided by Crisis Action

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined 45 other organizations providing humanitarian assistance or supporting peace efforts in Sudan, to write 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.

The letter notes that the recent bombing by the government  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 letter 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. It calls for an 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.

Presbyterians have a long and rich history of ministry with the people of Sudan and South Sudan. The Sudan Advocacy Action Forum also helps Presbyterians engage with our sisters and brothers in Christ in Sudan and South Sudan.


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