Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sudan: Blue Nile Civilians Describe Attacks, Abuses

Source: Human Rights Watch

Reports of Indiscriminate Bombings, Killings, Detentions Should be Investigated

 (Juba) – Civilians are bearing the brunt of abuses in Sudan’s simmering border conflict in Blue Nile state, Human Rights Watch said today, based on a research trip in April 2012 into Blue Nile.  As in neighboring Southern Kordofan, which Human Rights Watch visited in August 2011, civilians in Blue Nile continue to endure Sudan’s indiscriminate bombing and other abuses, even as new conflict between Sudan and South Sudan threatens to engulf the wider border area.

Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Blue Nile, which the government has largely shut off from the outside world, described indiscriminate bombings in civilian areas, killings, and other serious abuses by Sudanese armed forces since armed conflict broke out there in September 2011. The testimony indicates potential war crimes may have occurred, Human Rights Watch said.

The United Nations (UN) and African Union should insist that Sudan end indiscriminate bombing in civilian areas, and immediately allow aid into the state. The Security Council should urge the Sudanese Government to allow a full and impartial investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into events in both Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, said Human Rights Watch.

“The fighting in Blue Nile has turned its people into refugees, forcing them to abandon their homes and livelihoods,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The horrific accounts of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and mass looting and destruction of property need to be investigated, and those responsible held to account.”

Little information has emerged about events in Blue Nile. Sudan has not granted journalists, independent monitors, or aid groups access to Blue Nile state or to neighboring Southern Kordofan, where conflict erupted last June. Since the United Nations mandate for a peacekeeping operation in the region expired in July 2011, there have been no UN monitors on the ground to document the initial impact of the fighting on civilians in Blue Nile, where conflict spread in September.

The research in Blue Nile indicates that Sudan’s bombing campaign has killed, maimed, and injured scores of civilians since September and destroyed civilian property including markets, homes, schools, farms, and aid group offices.