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26 July 2011
We are very concerned about the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan that began on 5 June, and the devastating impact it is having on civilians. Mounting evidence that civilians are being deliberately targeted by Sudanese security forces is deeply disturbing, including the detailed information contained in an as-yet unpublished report by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) dated June 2011. The reported violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) highlighted in the UNMIS report include:
The UNMIS report also provides compelling accounts of three separate mass graves, including details
about their exact locations, and estimates that at least 73,000 people had been displaced by the crisis by
the end of June.
There are also allegations that the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army has violated international humanitarian law.
If proven, these acts may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law. Independent investigation of these serious allegations is essential and must occur without delay, both as a step toward avoiding impunity, and to change the situation on the ground in which thousands of civilians remain in danger.
Unfortunately, the Government of Sudan has blocked access to the affected areas, preventing international humanitarian organisations from providing emergency humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people displaced in the Nuba Mountains, and limiting the available information regarding the dire human rights situation throughout Southern Kordofan. The closure of UNMIS at the request of Sudan on July 9 underscores the dangerous gap in monitoring that now exists.
The concerns that led the UN Security Council to press for an extension of the UNMIS mandate have now been borne out. The facts now known point to an urgent need for an international monitoring presence in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Security Council should come together to press Sudan to accept an international monitoring presence in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile state, where tensions between the parties are also on the rise. The mission’s primary mandate should be to monitor and report on the human rights situation with a view to deterring further violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in these two key border states.
Without immediate intervention by the UN Security Council to ensure “eyes and ears” on the ground in Southern Kordofan, the grave risks to international peace and security presented by the ongoing crisis will remain unchecked, and the Security Council’s ability to protect civilians from further abuses will be substantially undermined.
While the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights hopes that the mission it is sending to Abyei this week will be able to assess the current human rights situation in Southern Kordofan, there is a strong likelihood that the Government of Sudan will not permit the mission to enter Southern Kordofan.
As an immediate step, the UN Security Council should mandate an assessment mission by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Southern Kordofan to investigate all alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by all parties with a view towards deterring further violations and avoiding impunity.
We welcome the UN Security Council’s public comments on 15 July, calling for a halt to the fighting in Southern Kordofan, urging all parties to allow humanitarian personnel timely and unfettered access to affected civilians, and encouraging the parties to resolve the crisis peacefully. We trust the Security Council will follow up on this important first step and not remain silent in the face of such deliberate attacks against the people of Southern Kordofan.
1. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies
2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
3. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
4. Enough Project
5. Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition
6. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
7. Human Rights Watch
8. Refugees International
For correspondence with the signatories to this letter, please contact Crisis Action:
Vanessa.firstname.lastname@example.org or ph 646 233 1650