June 5th, 2015
Weekly News Round Up (05/06/15): Update of conflicts in Blue Nile State and South Kordofan, Sudan and other news
This week – Latest news from conflicts in Blue Nile State and South Kordofan, Sudan.
The civilian populations of Blue Nile and South Kordofan continue to the face daily threat of aerial bombardment and ground offensives carried out by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the government’s militia wing, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced just in the last few months due to a recent proliferation in the fighting. Despite the fact that many are trapped between conflict in their own country and the raging civil war in South Sudan, and suffering from chronic shortages of food and other basic necessities, the government of Sudan (GoS) continues to deny humanitarian access to these regions.
In the latest visit to Sudan in January of this year, the HART team travelled to Blue Nile to document the impact of the GoS’ offensives carried out against the civilian population. Interviews with victims describe attacks on families, homes, crops, health clinics and schools, in the report which can be found here.
You can also watch a short video of the HART trip to Blue Nile here, which includes commentary from Benjamin Barnaba, one of HART’s partners on the ground.
- Compared with previous months, March was relatively quiet for the civilians living in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan. 20 civilians were reported to have been injured by aerial bombardment and there were no recorded deaths, although bombing and shelling did target livestock and displaced several households.
- By the start of April however, intense military offensives had resumed and by the 7th April 17 civilians had been killed by shelling and aerial bombardment. These included the shelling of Al Kuk village on 6th April that killed 9 people from the same family, and the bombing of a grinding mill in Tunguli, Dalami County, killing 7 people. The mill itself, which provided a vital service to the local population, was completely destroyed.
- On the 10th May, the SAF and RSF attacked three villages in Buram county, South Kordofan, killing three civilians and destroying 36 houses. Later on the same day they also targeted Hadra, near Dalami, killing six civilians and partially destroying the town. As a result of these attacks, an estimated 26,000 people have been driven from their homes, and many more have been forced to cease agricultural activities, worsening the already crippling food shortage.
- The SPLM-N did manage to push government forces out of both towns, but fears of a renewed assault and greater civilian casualties were ignited when reports emerged of SAF and RSF troops amassing around Kadugli, South Kordofan’s capital. Addresses from both the Minister of Defence, and the commander of the RSF, stated the intention of driving out the SPLM-N from South Kordofan completely before the rainy season begins.
- According to the Sudan Tribune, SPLM-N fighters hit back against government forces by ambushing a Sudanese military convoy in South Kordofan on the 1st June, killing six soldiers, injuring 25 and capturing extensive military equipment.
- On the 27th May, according to an update from the South Kordofan Blue Nile Coordination Unit, aerial attacks from two SAF jet fighters and an Antonov saw the deployment of cluster bombs in heavily populated areas of Kauda, South Kordofan, including the ‘Wednesday Market’ of upper Kauda. Luckily the sub munitions did not deploy properly and so only three people were injured, as well as several homes destroyed and some livestock killed. However, had the bombs detonated successfully, the cost to human life would have been catastrophic, as one bomb contains 100 sub munitions, each with the capacity to strike 10 homes within its blast radius.
- Additional evidence of the use of cluster bombs against civilian targets by GoS forces was revealed back in mid-April which, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) Africa Director Daniel Bekele, reinforces ‘the government’s total disregard for its own people’.
Anyone who wishes to know more about the conflict in South Kordofan, and to better understand the plight of the people living there, is invited to read a joint report from the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) and the National Human Rights Monitoring Organisation (NHRMO) on civilian perspectives from South Kordofan, which can be found here.
— Amanda Sperber (@hysperbole) May 29, 2015
- The situation for the civilian population in Blue Nile has also taken a downward turn over the past few weeks. Before Al Gareeda newspaper was duly shut down by the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS), along with four other newspapers, it released a story about the mass torching of villages in Bao locality, Blue Nile, that took place on the 20th May. Reports on the numbers forcibly displaced by the attacks vary from 7,000 to as a high as 30,000, according to estimates by local advocacy groups.
- Between the 11th and 30th of May an estimated 35,200 civilians have been forcibly displaced in Blue Nile, as a result of several offensives carried out by the SAF and RSF against towns and villages across Bao Locality. Many of the displaced are exposed and lack shelter, food, water and medical services, as much of these have been targeted and destroyed by aerial bombardments and shelling.
Very concerned at situation in Blue Nile #Sudan. forced relocations must stop, Sudanese gov must allow humanitarian agencies access.
— James Duddridge (@JamesDuddridge) May 30, 2015
- President Bashir’s inauguration ceremony took place in the Sudanese parliament on the 2nd June, with promises for peace and reconciliation with Sudan’s rebel groups and to focus on agriculture to improve the economy. However his conciliatory calls were not well received beyond his immediate audience, and have been hailed as a farce by rights advocates and senior rebel leaders, whom refuse to partake in peace talks. According to Malik Agar, head of SPLM-N, ‘There is nothing new in Bashir’s speech; there will be continuation of killing the civilians and destruction of the economy and we won’t wit with him for peace talks’.
- Jehanne Henry, a HRW officer for Sudan and South Sudan, states that the leaders and diplomats who attended Bashir’s inauguration should have arrested the President, and or urged him to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC). She goes on to say that ‘There is no indication Bashir is making efforts to improve the human rights situation in Sudan. During his election we saw even more evidence of abuses and repression’.
- In a recent report by Omer Ismail of Enough Project, President Bashir’s increasing economic and political dependence on the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, is cited as a potential opportunity to bring an end to conflict in Sudan. This is due to these countries’ strong alliance with the United States, who have requested that they put pressure on Bashir to put an end to Sudan’s internal conflicts, and to agree to political reform and comprises with the opposition, that are needed to secure sustained peace and stability.
News from HART
- With permission, we have reproduced an update we received by email from the South Kordofan Blue Nile Coordination Unit documenting attacks in the Nuba Mountains at the end of May. Read the update here.
- June 2015 marks four years of killing in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. Join us and other protestors worldwide THIS SATURDAY, to demonstrate against this ongoing genocide. If you’re unable to join us, you can still make a difference by signing this petition, requesting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to lead the fight in stopping the killing in the Nuba Mountains.
- Burma Campaign UK published a new briefing paper today, highlighting how Burma has taken no steps to implement the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which it signed one year ago today.
- Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) have published a reports which found that over 1/3 of people interviewed had left school before completing primary school. Government educational reforms are not reaching rural communities and the poorest communities are worst affected.
- 3 ethnic minority armed groups, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA) have left the National Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) due to lack of trust for the government negotiators. All of these groups are currently engaged in active conflict with the Government.
- Burma has warned against the international community ‘creating misconceptions’ about Myanmar. They refuse to accept responsibility for the Rohingya refugees and continues to refer to them as ‘Bengali’ migrants.
- President Obama has added his voice to condemnation of the Burmese Government stating that ‘The Rohingya have been discriminated against significantly, and that’s part of the reason they’re fleeing’.
- Htin Lin Oo, former NLD member has been sentenced to two years with labour for ‘defaming religion’ in a speech against Buddhism being used as a tool for extremism. This has sparked international outrage.
- India’s brutal weeks-long heat wave has now claimed over 2,000 lives.
- A tribal woman in central India has been brutally gang-raped allegedly by six men who suspected her of practising witchcraft, police say. Indian media reports are comparing the crime with the infamous Delhi gang rape of December 2012 where a 23-year-old student was gang-raped on a bus.
- Between the 24th and the 30th May, Azerbaijan reportedly broke the ceasefire 200 times, firing over 2000 shots.
- Special events were held throughout the region in recognition of International Children’s Day.
- A call for top officers of Nigeria’s army to face war crimes inquiry as leaked documents allege widespread abuse in campaign against Boko Haram. Read and watch Amnesty International’s report here.
- ‘On a long road to eliminating a bad institution; Nigeria bans Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)’.
- In an attack that bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, 50 were killed on Tuesday in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri.
- Newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari has again pledged to increase Nigeria’s military role in fight against Boko Haram.
- A parliamentary report has expressed concerns over the Ugandan army’s presence in South Sudan. Written and published by parliament’s committee on defense and internal affairs, the report suggests that the mission is unsustainable and proving to be a drain on the Ugandan economy. The government said it will not be withdrawing its military presence in the country.
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