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EU Parliament calls for international investigation on use of chemical weapons in Darfur

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October 6, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The European Union Parliament Thursday condemned the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Sudanese government forces in Jebel Marra area and called for an international investigation on the matter.

A child's arm shows off circular wounds consistent with chemical poisoning (Amnesty International photo)Last week Amnesty International reported that over 200 people had been killed in Darfur Jele Marra area by banned chemical weapons since January 2016. But the government denied the claims.

The group published pictures and accounts of 56 witnesses of the alleged chemical attack who spoke about "poisonous smoke" vomit blood, struggle to breathe and watch as their skin falls off.

The European Union "deplores the use of chemical weapons against civilians in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur by the Sudanese Government and highlights that this is a serious violation of international norms and also a war crime," said a resolution endorsed by all the seven groups of EU parliament.

The parliament "recalls that Sudan is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention and calls for an international investigation into these allegations led by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); reminds the Sudanese authorities of their responsibility to protect human rights."

The law makers further instructed its President to send their resolution on Sudan to the European Council and Commission,the Government of Sudan, the African Union, the United Nations Secretary-General, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The European legislators also dedicated a special paragraph in their resolution to the African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) where they called on the hybrid operation to establish a permanent presence inside Jebel Marra, to investigate and report on allegations of violations of human rights and international law by members of Sudanese Government forces and opposition forces alike.

On Tuesday, Hervé Ladsous the Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council UN no evidence on the use of chemical weapons by the Sudanese government in the area, pointing that UNAMID has no access to the conflict areas in Jebel Marra.

Ladsous further encouraged Sudanese government which is a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention "to maintain, as it has stated it would do, full cooperation with any future investigation by the OPCW".

The Sudanese government dismissed the reported allegations of chemical weapons saying it intends to disturb its efforts to achieve reconciliation and obstructs the national dialogue process.

"The allegations of use of chemical weapons by Sudanese Armed Forces is baseless and fabricated. The ultimate objective of such wild accusation, is to steer confusion in the on-going processes aimed at deepening peace and stability and enhancing economic development and social cohesion in Sudan," said Sudanese Ambassador to the United Nations Omer Dahab Fadl Mohammed in a statement after the publication of the report.

However Khartoum didn’t announce any concrete measure to probe the allegations reported by Amnesty International, while the opposition groups welcomed the report saying it confirms what they had kept repeating for years.

In their resolution, the European MPs also condemned human rights violations in Sudan particularly in the conflict areas.

The EU parliament "remains deeply concerned at the ongoing unlawful killings, abductions, and gender-based and sexual violence in the conflict areas, notably in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as the accompanying serious humanitarian emergency caused by enormous internal displacements; calls for an immediate end to the aerial bombardment of civilians by Sudanese forces".

It further condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of activists, rights defenders and journalist and urged the government to guarantee the peaceful exercise of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

The resolution went further to "underlines that the National Dialogue will only succeed if carried out in an atmosphere in which the freedoms of expression, media, association and assembly are guaranteed".

The European lawmakers used to support regional and international efforts for peace and democratic reforms. But the European governments remain divided as many call for a soft approach to achieve political reforms in the east African country.

(ST)

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