Sudan 'drops barrel bombs' on Darfur as war resumes

Sudan 'drops barrel bombs' on Darfur as war resumes
Sudan could break the conditions that would see international financial sanctions lifted after a ceasefire in Darfur province was shattered by government bombing.
3 min read
27 April, 2017
The ICC has an international arrest warrant out for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir [Getty]
Sudan's government has broken a months' long regional ceasefire in Darfur after it launched a persistent series of airstrikes in the Jebel Marra region, a rebel leader said on Tuesday.

There has been a consistent flare-up of violence in the region by government bombing and troops, claimed Abdul Wahid al-Nur, leader of the Sudan Liberation Army, Abdul Wahid group [SLA/AW].

"This government attack on the movement's bases underlines the lack of credibility of the government, which earlier announced a unilateral ceasefire," said Abdul Wahid al-Nur on Facebook.

"The government is killing civilians and dismantling refugee camps - it's the other side of its genocide against the people."

Regime planes allegedly began the offensive on April 6 when it dropped three barrel bombs on civilian areas in Jawa in eastern Jebel Marra.

Since then, the Sudanese air force has allegedly dropped dozens of barrel bombs on civilian areas, Abdul Wahid said.

The former US President Barack Obama ordered the lifting of some financial sanctions against Sudan during his final days in office, after Khartoum reduced its bombing raids in Darfur.

A US Congress foreign affairs sub-committee will hear on Wednesday why those sanctions should not be lifted in June however, as the regime has not totally forsworn all violence.

Brad Brooks-Rubin, policy director at The Sentry, will address Congress on "the questionable case for easing Sudan sanctions".

Amnesty International has issued the international chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, with "credible evidence", that Khartoum used chemical weapons against civilians in Jebel Marra on a number of occasions in 2016.

"These brutal attacks [in Darfur] left an estimated 200 to 250 people dead and scores more with horrific injuries," said Michelle Kagari, regional director at Amnesty.

"The OPCW must fully and independently investigate them.

The SLM-AW is the only remaining rebel group that did not agree to a ceasefire with the government that has largely held in the region since October.

On April 12, the Sudanese army declared that Darfur was free of rebellion, after it captured the Srounq area, reportedly the last SLM-AW stronghold in Jebel Marra.

The Abdul Wahid faction are fighting over control of the water-rich Jebel Marra region of Darfur, an area that is also rich with gold mines and oil fields.

A 2016 report by the Enough Project, an NGO dedicated to the cessation of violence in Africa, found that gold mining and mineral extraction programmes were directly responsible for war crimes in Darfur.

"Gold coming from Sudan is conflict-affected, high-risk, and helping to destabilise Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan, the country's main conflict zones," the report said.

"In those areas, civilians living around gold mining sites have suffered killings, mass rape, and the torching of their homes and fields at the hands of armed groups."

The Enough Project also published a new report on Tuesday, claiming that the Sudanese regime had stolen vast amounts of this wealth from its own people over the last three decades through a system of endemic looting and corruption.

Dr Suliman Baldo, senior adviser at the Enough Project, said: "Sudan's deep state is a complex construction of grand corruption and brutal power.

"An inner circle in power has privatised the country's natural wealth, its oil, gold, and land."