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Member states of the international body responsible for monitoring the use of chemical weapons must trigger an investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, revealed by Amnesty International last month.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Executive Council will start a three-day meeting at the organisation’s headquarters in the Hague today. Many of the members who will be present at the meeting, including France and other EU member states, have expressed their alarm over the chemical weapons allegations.

“Expressing concern and consternation will not suffice, we need to see concrete steps towards an independent investigation. We have credible evidence of horrific injuries, and estimates of up to 250 deaths, caused by dozens of suspected chemical weapons attacks against civilian populations over the past nine months,” said Tirana Hassan, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.

“These brutal attacks have caused unimaginable human suffering, particularly among young children, and must be investigated. Darfur dropped off the international agenda a decade ago but the relentless attacks on villages and slaughter of civilians, as well as apparent use of chemical weapons, show that it must be put back on as a matter of urgency.”

“The international community cannot ignore this wake up call, and independent investigations into the use of chemical weapons must be instigated at this meeting.”

Amnesty International is calling for member states at the OPCW meeting, which takes place between 11 and 14 October, to formally request that the Executive Council of the OPCW obtain clarification from the government of Sudan about the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Jebel Marra area in accordance with article IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention. If the Executive Council is unable to obtain adequate clarification from the government of Sudan, then member states must formally request a comprehensive on-site challenge inspection.