LAS letter South Kordofan bombing

Published: 10 Jun 2014

League of Arab States
10 June 2014
Subject: Call to end targeting of civilians in Sudan’s conflict areas
Your Excellency,
As a coalition of civil society groups from Africa and the Middle East who are working to assist the
people of Sudan, we write to Your Excellency to appeal to you to intensify your efforts to support
peace in Sudan. Specifically, we are calling on you to demand a halt to the upsurge of bombings
targeting civilians in South Kordofan state. We are deeply concerned that in just four days in May,
the town of Kauda and surrounding villages, far from the frontlines of the conflict, were hit by nearly
60 bombs that damaged the offices of the main local humanitarian organization in the region and
nearly destroyed a school. Earlier in the same month, the region’s major hospital and two clinics
were damaged in separate bomb attacks. These unprecedented attacks represent the largest
sustained bombardment of civilian targets in the three year history of the conflict. They have
greatly increased the suffering of civilians who are too afraid to plant their crops and are hiding
where they can in caves and foxholes.
As Your Excellency is aware, these developments are part of an escalating military campaign across
the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) and Darfur in what the Sudanese Minister of Defense
on 14 April 2014 called the onset of a ‘Decisive Summer Operation’ intended to “end the rebellion
in South Kordofan, Darfur and Blue Nile’’. It is widely reported that government-sponsored militia in
the form of Rapid Support Forces have been recruited and trained to end the rebellion1
. According
to the UN the conflict between the parties has internally displaced or ‘severely affected’ over
900,000 people in rebel-held areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.2
Your Excellency, we are concerned that these actions are in violation of international law. We
attach more detailed information, along with links to video and photographic evidence that shows
the deliberate targeting of civilians by the Government of Sudan. The escalation also coincides with
the planting season, which if missed, will result in grave threats of hunger for the local population.
Your Excellency, the undersigned organisations appeal to the League of Arab States and its member
states to increase their vital efforts in pursuit of a peaceful, comprehensive and inclusive resolution
of armed conflict in Sudan.
We urge the League of Arab States and its member states to:
 Condemn the aerial bombings and the reported use of government-sponsored militia in the
Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to target civilians and civilian property in Darfur and South
Kordofan. Such tactics are detrimental to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
 Recognise these recent attacks on civilians and their property are breaches of international
humanitarian law and international human rights law.

This is an estimate provided to UN OCHA by the humanitarian wing of SPLM-N. Source: 19 May 2014,
 Support an independent commission of inquiry into the alleged breaches of international
humanitarian and human rights law and make public the findings of this investigation as a
matter of urgency.
 Call upon the Government of Sudan and other armed groups in Sudan to immediately and
unconditionally halt attacks on civilians and civilian property.
 Renew calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflicts in South
Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur as an essential precondition to any meaningful national dialogue
which is a vital route to address the underlying causes of Sudan’s conflicts.
 Demand that all parties to the conflict permit humanitarian access to conflict-affected
populations regardless of where they are located in the Two Areas and Darfur. All parties must
ensure the safe, unhindered and immediate access of United Nations and other humanitarian
personnel as well as the delivery of supplies and equipment, so that they can assist affected
populations as quickly as possible.
We urge Your Excellency to prioritise addressing the current deadly upsurge in violence and attacks
against civilians. Without such continued and coordinated leadership and timely action, we fear that
civilians will continue to lose their lives and the prospects for any comprehensive peace in Sudan will
remain elusive. We stand ready to provide any further support to your noble endeavours.
Please rest assured, Your Excellency, of our highest consideration.
Yours sincerely,
1. Action pour les Droits Humains et l’Amitié (ADHA)
2. African Centre For Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
3. Algeria League for Defence of Human Rights
4. Arab Coalition for Sudan (ACS)
5. Arab Foundation for Civil Society and Human Rights Support
6. Arab Institute for Democracy (Tunisia)
7. Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
8. Arab Organisation for Human Rights (Libya)
9. Arab Organisation for Human Rights (Mauritania)
10. Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA)
11. Assistance Mission for Africa (AMA)
12. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO)
13. Conscience International (CI)
14. Darfur Bar Association
15. Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre
16. Governance Bureau – Sudan
17. Human Rights First Saudi Arabia
18. International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC)
19. International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
20. Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE)
21. Kush Incorporated
22. Media Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (Shams Centre) – Palestine
23. New Sudan Council of Churches
24. Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (NRRDO)
25. Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO)
26. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN)
27. South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy
28. Sudan Consortium
29. Sudan Democracy First (SDFG)
30. Sudan Social Development Organisation UK (SUDO UK)
31. Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA)
32. Union des RessortissantsRwandais au Sénégal (URRS)
33. West African Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons Network (WARIPNET)
34. Zarga Organisation for Rural Development (ZORD) – Sudan
Permanent Representatives of the League of Arab States
Multiple, credible and verified sources from the ground, accompanied by video footage and
photographs, show almost 60 bombs were dropped from Antonov and Sukhoi planes over four
days commencing 26 May. During these attacks, the main local humanitarian organisation in the
Nuba Mountains (Nuba Relief Rehabilitation and Development Organisation – NRRDO – in Heiban
County) and the adjacent area were struck. Many of the bombs landed in the Kauda market place
where people shop, drink tea and pray in the local mosque; others fell near a school. This followed
the bombing of the Mother of Mercy Catholic Hospital in nearby Gidel on 1st May, the main hospital
in the Nuba Mountains. These installations are clearly civilian and humanitarian. Kauda is in the
heart of SPLM-N territory but far from the front lines. We therefore judge that their targeting
constitutes clear violation of international humanitarian law.
Your Excellency, the bombing which includes the increased use of parachute-retarded bombs
against civilians, has been accompanied by the scaled up use of heavy shelling by both long range
and highly indiscriminate multiple launch rocket systems. This is well documented in Rashad,
Abisseya and recently Dalami counties. The U.N. reports that over 100,000 people have reportedly
been displaced from these areas in the last month.3
There are further reliable reports through
monitors on the ground which indicate systematic looting, destruction of grain stores and water
boreholes, and the burning of houses in areas previously under rebel control4
. It is widely reported
that government-sponsored militia in the form of Rapid Support Forces have been recruited and
trained for such activities.
Your Excellency, the upsurge in attacks has left civilians traumatised and terrorised. They are being
kept from cultivating their land during the vital planting season currently underway. It appears
that hunger is being used as a weapon of war as reported during the 1989-2002 conflict in the Nuba
Mountains. Finally, the current situation is all the more precarious because of the crisis in South
Sudan, which has disrupted what minimal supply lines existed for communities in Nuba to receive
goods from outside the Two Areas.
Credible reports show violations are also conducted on the rebel side.
6 Monitors on the ground
nevertheless focus on what can be reported away from the frontlines (mostly from displaced
communities) and on the most serious violations.
For further information on this letter please contact Jamie Balfour-Paul at +20 1009511462

Sudan Consortium: Impact of Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, Republic of Sudan, April 2014

Regions: North and Horn of Africa, Sudan
Type: Advocacy