Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have collected evidence indicating that the Sudanese Armed Forces may have committed war crimes in Southern Kordofan, the organizations said today.
In a rare trip to the Nuba Mountains region of Southern Kordofan, researchers from the two human rights groups found that an indiscriminate bombing campaign carried out by Sudan since early-June is killing and maiming men, women and children.
One man described his pregnant wife, mother of ten children, coming under attack during an air strike in Um Sirdeeba, east of the state capital Kadugli:
“My wife, Mahasin, was planting crops in the field next to our home when we heard a plane, an Antonov, circle above. She shouted to the children: ‘Lie on the ground as the bombs are coming now.’”
The bomb exploded near the family’s home, decapitating his wife and killing two of his children and a nephew.
Another woman told researchers how she lost her two young children when a plane bombed a busy market in the village of Kurchi. The same incident killed 13 civilians, among them five children.
“I heard explosions, and then a neighbour brought the body of [my daughter] Maryam to the house. Part of her head was gone,” she said.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented 13 separate bombing incidents in Kauda, Delami and Kurchi towns alone, in which at least 26 civilians were killed and more than 45 others injured since mid-June.
Antonov aircraft dropped bombs over farmlands and villages on a near-daily basis while researchers were on the ground from August 14-21.
Researchers were present when three bombs were dropped from an Antonov aircraft on August 19, and photographed the incident.
In all the attacks investigated by researchers, there were seemingly no legitimate military targets near to where the bombs struck, according to victims and witnesses.
The type of munitions used – unguided munitions dropped from high altitude – and the indiscriminate manner in which they were delivered, violated international humanitarian law.
Since early June, more than 150,000 people have been forced to flee due to the conflict. Tens of thousands are in opposition-held areas, where the Sudanese authorities have effectively blockaded humanitarian assistance and the flow of desperately needed goods and basic services.
Displaced communities forced out of their homes by the repeated bombing live in harsh conditions in caves, on mountaintops, under trees, and in the bush far from towns.
They lack sufficient food, medicine, sanitation, and shelter from heavy rains. Many displaced families told researchers they were eating berries and leaves and that their children were suffering from diarrhoea and malaria.
“The Sudanese authorities should immediately cease all indiscriminate bombing in Southern Kordofan and allow access for emergency assistance as well as human rights monitors,” said Erwin van der Borght.
“The United Nations Security Council should condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing human rights violations in the Nuba Mountains, and mandate an independent inquiry to investigate abuses committed by parties to the conflict in Southern Kordofan since 5 June,” he added.
Sudan: Southern Kordofan Civilians Tell of Air Strike Horror (PRESS RELEASE, 30 August 2011)
Arms trade fuels violations in Sudan conflict (NEWS, 8 July 2011)
Sudan: Insecurity persists for the displaced in Southern Kordofan (PUBLIC STATEMENT, 24 June 2011)
Sudan: Risks to civilians increasing in Southern Kordofan (NEWS, 10 June 2011)