Amnesty International’s newly released report “Scorched Earth, Poisoned air,” documents the use of chemical weapons by the Sudanese government in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur.
“Based on testimony from caregivers and survivors, Amnesty International estimates that between 200 and 250 people may have died as a result of exposure to the chemical weapons agents, with many – or most – being children. The vast majority of survivors of the suspected chemical weapons attacks have had no access to adequate medical care.”
The Sudanese government launched a ground and air offensive in the area in January 2016. The offensive continued until May 2016, when the Darfur seasonal rains rendered ground attacks impossible. Amnesty International believes chemical weapons may have been used particularly during the early stages of the offensive.
Air attacks, however, continued until September 2016, with the last recorded attack on the 9th of September 2016. According to the Sudanese military, the purpose of the military campaign was to “attack and gain control over positions held by members of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid faction, and in turn to put an end to the “rebellion” in Darfur.” According to the Amnesty International report, hundreds of villages were attacked and torched, majority of which had no formal armed opposition present at the time of the attacks.
Amnesty International urged the Sudanese government to “immediately allow all humanitarian actors and United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) unfettered access to all of Jebel Marra and to end all violations of international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) being committed by members of the armed forces and allied militias in Jebel Marra.”
It also calls on other actors, including the African Union Peace and Security Council as well as the UN Security Council, to exert political pressure on the government of Sudan to ensure this unfettered access. Furthermore, it calls on the Security Council to take action on the alleged use of chemical weapons stating:
“Amnesty International calls on the UN Security Council to recommend that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) obtain clarification about the nature and extent of Sudan’s chemical weapons program, demand that Sudan co-operate fully with the OPCW, and reserve the right to enact other measures to support the OPCW’s efforts, including the creation of a OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify individuals, entities, groups, or governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the development or use of chemicals as weapons in the Republic of Sudan.”
You can read the full report here.