Al-Bashir is accountable for humanitarian crimes in Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan: HRW

Bassem Aly, Wednesday 12 Dec 2012

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and other officials should be held responsible for severe rights violations committed in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, Human Rights Watch says

Al-Bashir & Kiir
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) welcomes his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir (C) during his arrival at Khartoum Airport October 8,2011 (Photo: Reuters)

Human Rights Watch condemned on Tuesday the "indiscriminate aerial bombardment" in the states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan by the Sudanese government, a conflict that began one year ago.

In a report published on its website, Human Rights Watch mentioned raiding villages, burning and looting civilian property, raping women and girls and arbitrarily detaining people as the series of humanitarian violations committed against civilians in the two states.

The report also revealed assaults by government ground forces and militia without "distinguishing civilians from combatants."  

The independent watchdog urged the international community to "forcefully press" Khartoum to halt its attacks and allow aid workers access to the areas. The report also called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon to create a commission of inquiry to investigate the violations by regime and rebel forces, as the latter had also assaulted government-controlled towns. 

Human Rights Watch blamed President Omar Al-Bashir, governor of southern Kordofan Ahmed Haroun, and the current defence minister Abdulraheem Mohammed Hussein for acts described and recommended imposing sanctions on them such as asset freezes and travel bans.

The men are also facing arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for similar crimes in the case of Darfur, in the west of the country. The ICC prosecutor is expected to address the UN Security Council about the Darfur investigation on 13 December. 

According to the report, the ongoing conflict in the southern states of Sudan led to almost 200,000 people currently living in refugee camps in Ethiopia and South Sudan. Their safety is still in question, with soldiers from various armies in the vicinity of the camps.

In addition, refugees in the camps have little access to clean water or basic life necessities amid the imposed restriction of movement in and out of rebel areas by the Sudanese government. 

Post-separation dilemmas

Khartoum has repeatedly accused South Sudan of supporting the South's former civil war allies who are fighting in Sudan's border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, being one of the crises that emerged after separation of the two neighbouring states in July 2011.

Al-Bashir and his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir inked a series of deals on security and cooperation in September after four days of presidential talks, but failed to reach a comprehensive deal on the most contentious areas.

The former civil war foes have agreed on a package of deals that will ensure the newly separated nations "will thrive and become two viable states," African Union official Barney Afako said at the start of the signing ceremony.

Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein and his counterpart John Kong Nyuon also signed a security agreement, which paves the way for a demilitarised border zone for their volatile and contested frontier.

Economic deals, including agreements to restart stalled oil production, were also reached at the ceremony, held in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital.

However, Sudan has insisted that security be assured before economic deals are implemented.


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