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HART returned last week from a visit to the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan. Major General Gagot, SPLM-N Chief of Staff, informed us of movement of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) brigades into strategic positions for impending attacks aimed at capturing the town of Kauda. Since 2011, SAF has deliberately and systematically targeted civilians, in breach of international humanitarian law, with aerial bombardment, shelling and ground attacks.
Civilian infrastructure – schools, medical facilities and cultivated land – has been destroyed with weaponry deemed illegal for use in civilian areas or more precise arms targeting exact civilian locations. The SAF use searchlights at night, surveillance drones and low flying jets to detect human targets.
Furthermore, the Government of Sudan (GoS) has denied humanitarian assistance to areas in SPLA-N control since 2011. This will be particularly serious this Spring, as the Commissioner of Tobo County told us, “My prediction for 2016: Famine”. Famine looms due to a short, unpredictable rainy season and the continued destruction of farmland by the SAF.
The present ceasefire in the region, which was extended until the end of January, is considered by many to be a bargaining tool to placate the international community and has been violated by SAF. Last week a brigade named ‘Abbasiya Glory’ raided the town of El Abbasiya, killed six civilians, looted the market and reportedly raped a number of women.
The tenth round of peace talks between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF – a coalition of rebel groups) failed in November 2015 as the parties could not agree on a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access. Major General Gagot told us; “They want the international community to think that they are willing, but they are not trying to negotiate peace. How can it be a National Dialogue when they are only talking between themselves?… At the moment all we have is talking, but we want a road map and an end-game.” ICC-indicted President al-Bashir appointed himself as Chairman of the ‘National Dialogue’, insisted that talks be held in Khartoum and denied some opposition groups a seat at the negotiating table.
The international community continues to turn a blind eye to GoS atrocities: “The Government of Khartoum is not killing us secretly, they attack in broad daylight. They are killing us loudly, but no one is listening. We have no food, we have no shelter, our children have no education or immunisation. We do not understand why the International Community is not acting but we are going to keep speaking the truth – we will not be silent.”
HART urges the UK Government to support cross-border aid to civilians and to implement measures to break the impunity with which the GoS is breaking international humanitarian law.
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