UN/Sudan: Southern Kordofan Needs International Monitors
Human Rights Watch
27 July 2011
(…) The United Nations Security Council should take immediate steps to ensure international monitoring in Southern Kordofan, where reports of massive human rights violations by Sudanese forces have emerged, Human Rights Watch said today. Council members, who meet on July 28, 2011, should press all parties to end immediately the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians and should warn those responsible for these crimes that they will be held accountable. (…)
"Tens of thousands of civilians in Southern Kordofan are in grave danger, and no one is on the ground to report on what is happening, much less do anything about it," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "An international presence in Southern Kordofan is urgently needed to prevent further atrocities." (…)
The witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that soldiers and armed militias shot civilians during house-to-house searches in Kadugli. They reported seeing dozens of dead bodies in homes and on the ground as they fled town. One student member of the SPLM, who left town on June 6 after a large number of soldiers entered the house where he and other students were living, said, "We jumped over the wall to the neighbor's house, and I found five dead bodies of the father, mother, and three children."
He and six other students sought refuge near the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) compound on the outskirts of Kadugli, but then fled toward Dilling, to the northeast, after government security forces entered the mission's protective area in search of SPLM members.
Near-daily bombing has killed and maimed scores of men, women, and children in the region and has forced thousands of civilians to flee to safety in nearby caves. Sources on the ground estimate that the numbers displaced by the ongoing hostilities have more than doubled, from 73,000 a few weeks ago to over 150,000 now. (…)
Access to Southern Kordofan remains difficult, as Sudan is blocking road and air access to affected populations. In addition, its bombing campaign has destroyed or damaged airstrips, preventing humanitarian aid from reaching displaced people in the Nuba Mountains.
"As a critical first step, the Security Council should secure unrestricted access to Southern Kordofan for humanitarian purposes," Bekele said. (…)
An international presence in Southern Kordofan is urgently needed and could grow out of an existing peacekeeping mission or could be a stand-alone operation involving the UN, the African Union, or both organizations. In any case, the mission should have an explicit mandate to monitor and report publicly on human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said.
An unpublished report by UNMIS, leaked to the media in mid-July, documented numerous cases of extrajudicial killings, arrests through house-to-house searches and checkpoints, and abductions. In one example, on June 8, militiamen pulled an independent contractor out of his vehicle in front of the peacekeepers' compound, took him around the corner, and shot him dead.
The report, based on information gathered by UNMIS human rights monitors before the mission's mandate ended, also detailed witness accounts of large numbers of dead bodies, mass graves, the use of chemical weapons, and the presence of landmines. The report noted that such violations, if proven, could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. (…)
"With no eyes and ears on the ground, the Sudanese government may believe it can continue this brutal campaign with total impunity," Bekele said. "The Security Council should send a strong message now that those responsible for these violations will be held accountable." (…)
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