Sudan’s other war crimes

It’s probably safe to say that you’ve heard of Darfur, the site of some of the 21st century’s most egregious war crimes, courtesy of Sudan’s unfortunately not arrested President Omar al-Bashir. Twelve years after Bashir’s government decided to deal with unrest in Darfur by pretty much depopulating the place (300,000 people were killed), many people there are still living in desperate conditions, and almost three million Darfur residents remain displaced.

Darfur, amazingly, isn’t Bashir’s only massive war crime. An uprising in South Kordofan, along Sudan’s border with South Sudan, began in 2011 around the time when South Sudan was negotiating its exit from Sudan. Lots of South Kordofan’s residents probably would have preferred to join South Sudan, see, but the province has oil so there’s no way Bashir was going to let that happen, hence the fighting. A group called the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a branch of South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s SPLM party, has been battling Sudanese army forces for control in the area. As of late last year the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, another southern province whose residents probably would have preferred joining South Sudan, had killed thousands of people and displaced almost half a million. At the time, the UN warned of war crimes, including the shelling of civilians, being committed in South Kordofan.

Amnesty International has now released a report on war crimes in South Kordofan just between January and April of this year, as Bashir tried to defeat the rebellion in advance of Sudan’s general election in mid-April. As in Darfur, Sudanese forces have reportedly made no distinction between rebel fighters and civilians (including the use of devastating cluster bombs against civilians), have reportedly targeted schools and hospitals, and have blocked humanitarian aid from flowing into the area. These are clear war crimes. Hundreds of thousands of people in South Kordofan are displaced and/or struggling with food and water insecurity. Bashir’s army either doesn’t care what happens to South Kordofan’s civilians or is deliberately targeting them; either way he’s directly responsible for their suffering.

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