(NEW YORK) – Amnesty International warned today in a new report that civilians in Southern Kordofan face an unfolding catastrophe caused by indiscriminate bombings, massive displacement, and a lack of humanitarian assistance. The situation is likely to get worse in the coming months as food supplies dwindle and the rainy season makes roads impassable.
Amnesty International is calling on the U.N. Security Council and African Union (AU) to take immediate steps to halt the indiscriminate attacks and bring pressure to urgently open conflict-affected areas to humanitarian relief.
Indiscriminate bombings, lack of humanitarian aid, and massive displacement that have severely disrupted agricultural production, are putting civilians in the areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) in an extremely precarious situation, the report says.
“The international community continues to watch this catastrophe unfold as the humanitarian situation worsens in conflict-affected areas of Southern Kordofan. It’s time for some concerted action,” said Khairunissa Dhala, Amnesty International’s South Sudan researcher. “Indiscriminate attacks must immediately cease and the international community must bring pressure to bear on the Sudanese authorities to grant immediate and unhindered humanitarian access.”
Khadija Al’hamr, an elderly woman from Um Serdiba in Southern Kordofan, described to Amnesty International the shocking aftermath of a bombing near her home that killed her neighbor, Naima Kuku and Naima’s granddaughter Amal.
“Naima Kuku was cut into pieces. I picked up her parts to bury. Amal was cut into two and was pregnant…” said Al’hamr. “We cannot endure this anymore. It has to end. Stop the planes.”
Amnesty International has documented bombings by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) carried out during key planting and harvesting periods that have caused severe damage to people’s livelihoods. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, the majority of internally displaced people are likely to face crisis levels of food security by the time the rainy season starts in the next few weeks.
The attacks have also severely disrupted daily activities such as farming and education. Where schooling is still possible, it takes place in open spaces, so that teachers and pupils can run to seek shelter in nearby foxholes and caves. Access to healthcare and clean water has also been negatively impacted, denying basic rights to the civilian population.
As the conflict ensues, the number of people fleeing to South Sudan as refugees rapidly increases and more continue to arrive every day. More than 70,000 people have fled to Yida camp in Unity State, while the U.N. anticipates that the number of refugees there will reach 100,000 by May.
Challenges to hosting and providing adequate services to the burgeoning refugee population in Yida remain. As the camp keeps growing, refugees face pressure to move to other sites prior to the rains.
Amnesty International calls on the South Sudan authorities together with international agencies to ensure that refugees have access to basic services at all sites, including education.
“Nearly two years on, the conflict in Southern Kordofan and the humanitarian crisis that it has brought, are severely undermining people’s basic human rights,” said Dhala. “The Sudanese authorities are harassing, arresting and detaining a number of people who are speaking out about the situation inside Sudan.”
Amnesty International is seriously concerned about the health of a number of women who have been detained because of their alleged affiliation to the SPLM-N, the political wing of the SPLA-N. Thirty-two in total have been held without charge or access to a lawyer for over five months.
The report, Sudan: Civilians Caught in Unending Crisis in Southern Kordofan also calls for an independent inquiry into the alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, including the Government of Sudan and the SPLA-N.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.