June 12, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – The United States on Thursday issued a strong condemnation of what it claimed to be attacks by Sudanese army and its militias known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the border states of the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
- US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (Photo: AFP/Andrew Burton)
“Since April, not only have ground attacks on, and the shelling of, civilian populations increased, but the Government of Sudan has intensified its air campaign, dropping hundreds of barrel bombs and other ordnance on Sudanese towns and villages, deliberately targeting hospitals and schools,” said the US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power in a statement today.
“We are also disturbed by recent reports of aerial bombings targeting civilian humanitarian assistance workers – which, if accurate, would be a serious violation of international law and would compound the impediments that the government has already placed on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need” the press release said.
The US official quoted unnamed NGO’s as accusing RSF militia of looting and destroying food and water supplies in areas reclaimed from rebels.
The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, was originally mobilised by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.
Two prominent Sudanese opposition leaders were recently arrested and referred to court for accusing RSF of abuses in the course of its military campaign.
Last February, the presence of Janjaweed militias incorporated in RSF in North Kordofan state capital of El-Obeid drew widespread condemnation from residents who accused it of spreading terror.
These forces were blamed for looting commercial markets and killing of a merchant in El-Obeid leading to massive protests across the city.
The governor of North Kordofan state, Ahmed Haroun, announced at the time that his government made the necessary arrangements to drive them out from the state within 72 hours.
The US envoy also recalled Khartoum’s refusal to allow aid groups into rebel-held areas of the two states since the conflict broke out in 2011.
“We have also seen these tactics used recently in Darfur, displacing over 300,000 people this year,” Power said.
“The United States calls on all armed groups in Sudan to cease all violence against civilians and comply with international law. We note the Government of Sudan has a special responsibility in this regard as it is charged with the protection of its citizens. We urge the international community and the UN Security Council to ensure that those responsible for these attacks on civilians are held accountable and that all available mechanisms for doing so are effectively utilized,” she added.
The latest weekly bulletin by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) stated that more than 100,000 people in Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) areas have been displaced by fighting over the past few months in parts of South Kordofan.
Millions of civilians have been displaced in the two states since the conflict erupted in the two states between government forces and SPLM-N.