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Sudan - Two Areas Conflict - 2014

Heavy fighting between the SAF and the SPLM-N continued in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in 2014. Both the government and rebel fighters were accused of using excessive force and targeting civilians. The governments announced artillery and aerial bombing campaign surge, particularly in May, June, and October, resulted in significant damage to infrastructure and civilian casualties.

In April peace negotiations concerning the Two Areas collapsed between the government and the SPLM-N convened under auspices of the AU High Level Implementation Panel. A new round of talks began on November 12, but were inconclusive and adjourned until January 2015.

According to the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, the humanitarian wing of the SPLM-N, the three-year conflict had displaced nearly one million civilians from Southern Kordofan and an estimated 100,000 from Blue Nile. Approximately 400,000 residents of Southern Kordofan fled their homes for refuge in other parts of the state. Many of the IDPs faced chronic food shortages and inadequate medical care. Significant numbers of farmers were prevented from planting their fields due to the conflict, leading to near-famine conditions in parts of Southern Kordofan. The SAF and the SRF, a coalition of both armed and unarmed opposition groups, conducted indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians in the Two Areas.

The government granted international humanitarian organizations limited access to government-controlled areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, but access to rebel held areas remained extremely limited. SAF air raids resulted in civilian deaths and the destruction of agricultural grounds and impeded the planting of crops for harvest throughout Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Women and children accounted for most of the victims. Air raids also destroyed homes, schools, churches, mosques, and other civilian structures.

Between January and June, air raids on the villages of Soda, Yabus, Kondol, and Chali in Blue Nile killed at least 12 civilians and injured 16 others. October 16, the SAF bombed Heiban Market, killing at least six persons, including children, and injuring two others.

Rebel groups reported that the SAF dropped nine bombs on the villages of Karkaraia and Atmor in Southern Kordofan on October 26, injuring at least two individuals and destroying several farms. Ground attacks by SAF forces and government-backed militias often followed aerial bombardments. Rebel forces also killed civilians during attacks. Attacks resulted in civilian displacement.

The SRF conducted indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the Two Areas. Shelling by the SPLM-N killed at least seven civilians and injured a dozen others in Kadugli between February and March. On June 7, fighting between the SAF and the SPLM-N in Atmor, Southern Kordofan, killed at least 100 individuals from both sides and injured dozens more. On June 28, shelling of Kadugli, Southern Kordofan, by the SPLM-N, a member of the SRF, killed two and injured at least 10 others.

According to local human rights advocates, military intelligence arrested and summarily executed four civilians: Khatir Hassan (arrested on August 12), Tariq Khatir (arrested on August 12), Humaidan Mohammed Kurtikaila Atron (arrested on July 17), and Abdel Rahman Alti (arrested on July 5), in Dilling, Southern Kordofan. The victims were arrested in Kurgul and transferred to Dilling for execution.

International organizations were unable independently to verify reports of disappearances due to lack of access to the region. Between April and November 2013, government forces captured and imprisoned 10 men from various SPLM-N-controlled areas of Southern Kordofan. Authorities accused the men of supporting rebel forces and tried them in a court-martial. One of the individuals, suffering from poor health, was acquitted and released. In September the military court sentenced the remaining nine civilian men to seven years imprisonment. Human rights defenders reported similar trials that followed this pattern.

Human rights defenders reported that in September military intelligence arrested five individuals: Eisa Abbas, Gibriel Abbas, Abdalla Khamis, Abboud Obeid, and Abboud al-Tijani in Allaggori village, Southern Kordofan. Military intelligence accused the detainees of being SPLM-N supporters or affiliates. The detainees were transferred to Dilling. As of October they remained in detention without charge.

The SAF and government-aligned forces reportedly burned and looted villages in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. There were reports of physical abuse and violent interrogations of SPLM-N-affiliated individuals in Kadugli prison and military installations.

Human rights advocates reported security forces arrested al-Sadig Hassan and three other activists in Fazugli, Blue Nile, on May 3, and sent them to Dem Saad military base on suspicion of supporting the SPLM-N. Human rights advocates believe Hassan died from torture while in detention on May 19. Authorities released the other three activists the same week.

Government forces killed and maimed civilians during repeated aerial or artillery bombardment. The SAF also repeatedly bombed cultivated land, thereby disrupting planting cycles, which, coupled with forced displacements and the denial of humanitarian assistance, resulted in near famine-like conditions. NGOs accused the government of using the denial of food as a weapon of war.

On December 14, Human Rights Watch reported government forces and allied militias raped, detained, tortured, and arbitrarily killed civilians in government-controlled areas of Blue Nile.

The United Nations recorded the recruitment and use of 40 child soldiers in Southern Kordofan and two children in Blue Nile between January and May. It also reported the Popular Defense Forces recruited 14 children--five in Blue Nile and nine in Southern Kordofan. The United Nations also reported the SPLM-N recruited at least 26 children, including 10 from Southern Kordofan, and that three children reported receiving military training in Blue Nile after being recruited by SPLM-N from South Sudan.

The governments DDR commissioner for Southern Kordofan claimed there was no longer active recruitment of child soldiers in Southern Kordofan. Other Conflict-related Abuses: All parties to the Two Areas conflicts obstructed the work of humanitarian organizations, increasing the displacement of civilians and abuse of IDPs. Violence, insecurity, and the denial of visas and refusal of access to international organizations reduced the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide needed services.

Despite the joint communique released by the government and the United Nations, government forces frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance. The government restricted or denied permission for humanitarian assessments, refused to approve technical agreements, changed procedures, copied NGO files, confiscated NGO property, questioned humanitarian workers at length and monitored their personal correspondence, delayed issuance of visas and travel permits, restricted travel, and publicly accused humanitarian workers of aiding rebel groups.

In contrast with the previous year, there were reports of humanitarian aid workers and centers, including hospitals, being targeted in the Two Areas. On May 1-2, the SAF dropped 11 bombs near the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, in Southern Kordofan, causing a moderate number of casualties.

On June 16, the SAF dropped six bombs near Farrandalla. The MSF reported two bombs hit the hospital it operated, damaging the hospital compound and injuring six. The MSF reported that its hospital was clearly marked and that it had conveyed its location to authorities in Khartoum. It also reported being the target of a second aerial bombardment on August 10.

The UNHCR did not have a presence in SPLM-N-controlled areas and was unable to verify the scope of civilian displacement in the area. In October the United Nations estimated there were1.7 million IDPs and severely affected inhabitants in the Two Areas. This figure included 940,000 in government-controlled areas and 800,000 in SPLM-N-controlled areas.

There were reports the government provided support to antigovernment rebels in South Sudan, especially following the December 2013 violence. There were unconfirmed reports conflict minerals, including gold, were illicitly traded across borders in the Two Areas.




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Page last modified: 06-08-2015 19:53:40 ZULU