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Sudan accused of using chemical weapons in Darfur

By News Express on 29/09/2016

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Since January, people in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur have reported blisters and rashes on their skin, cases of their skin falling off, eye problems, including total vision loss, bloody vomit, diarrhea and severe respiratory problems.

All of these are symptoms of chemical exposure that Amnesty International says came from weapons used by the government of Sudan.
As many as 250 people, including many children, may have died as a result of chemical attacks, and hundreds more have been injured, says the rights group.
“This is the first time, as far as we are aware of as survivors and monitors on the ground, this is the first time that we’ve documented the use of chemical weapons, so it is sort of a radical departure,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes.
Civilians deliberately targeted
The report released by Amnesty on Thursday states that Sudanese security forces have deliberately targeted civilians and their property, including the probable use of ‘blister agents,’ a banned class of chemical weapons, in roughly 32 villages in the Jebel Marra area.
Calls by VOA to two Sudanese government officials for response went unanswered, but the Reuters news agency reports that Sudan’s U.N. ambassador said the Amnesty report was “utterly unfounded” and that Sudan does not possess any type of chemical weapons.
Magnus Taylor is the International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa analyst for Sudan and Uganda.
“We already knew, prior to the release of the Amnesty report, that the Sudanese government’s counter-insurgency in Jebel Marra was bad,” said Taylor. “But if these allegations of chemical weapon use are true, then we may be just starting to learn how bad. It’s difficult to fully understand what Khartoum’s motives for committing such atrocities would be, in a war they were already winning, at a time when the government is making overtures to the international community.”
Amnesty International says it conducted 235 phone interviews for the report, since the Sudanese government did not allow them field access. The group says local intermediaries helped to identify and contact survivors.
Amnesty International has asked the U.N. Security Council and state parties to the convention on chemical weapons to conduct follow-up investigations in Darfur. It is calling on Sudan’s government to stop the attacks, and to also give international aid agencies access to Jebel Marra.
“I think it’s really important that this get back on the map,” said Wanyeki. “I think that we have dropped attention as Africa, as the rest of the world, on Sudan, on Darfur, and the other conflict areas in the Sudan. And I think given... this type of re-engagement can’t happen until this sort of thing stops.”
The U.N. estimates more than 300,000 people have died in Darfur since 2003, when rebels there launched a rebellion, citing discrimination and marginalisation. The government responded by unleashing militias known as Janjaweed to cause chaos in the region. Fighting has never entirely stopped in the 13 years since.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, but has denied the allegations and avoided arrest. (VOA)
•Photo shows Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Source News Express

Posted 29/09/2016 9:30:11 PM

 

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