Amnesty: Sudan using chemical weapons in Darfur

Khartoum, for its part, describes allegations as 'fabricated'

Amnesty: Sudan using chemical weapons in Darfur

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Sudanese government has since January repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians in a remote region of Darfur, Amnesty International said in its latest report Thursday.

The attacks reportedly came amid a large-scale military offensive launched in January 2016 by Sudanese forces in Jebel Marra against the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW), which they accuse of ambushing military convoys and attacking civilians.

"Amnesty International's investigation found that at least 30 suspected chemical attacks have taken place so far this year. The most recent was on Sept. 9," it said, adding that the attacks were ongoing.

The rights group said it had documented numerous human rights violations, including scores of instances in which government forces deliberately targeted civilians and civilian property.

Aside from having photographic evidence of the use of chemical weapons against civilians, Amnesty said it interviewed 56 residents of Jebel Marra, 46 civilians and ten members of the SLA/AW who alleged that Sudanese government forces had utilized “poisonous smoke” during attacks in Jebel Marra between January and September 2016.

"Based on testimony from caregivers and survivors, Amnesty International estimates that between 200 and 250 people may have died as a result of exposure to the chemical weapons agents, with many – or most – being children.

"The vast majority of survivors of the suspected chemical weapons attacks have had no access to adequate medical care," the report said.

The victims of the chemical attacks are said to be civilians mostly children from at least 150 villages in the Jebel Marra area. 

Amnesty said it could not immediately identify the specific chemical agents used during the attacks, as the government had imposed restrictions on access to the Jebel Marra area, where the rights group had hoped to acquire environmental and physiological samples from those directly or indirectly exposed to the alleged chemical agents.

In its report, Amnesty said it had asked two chemical weapons experts to independently review the clinical signs and symptoms revealed by the photographic and video evidence and interview notes.

“Both experts concluded the clinical signs and symptoms were most consistent with exposure to a class of chemical warfare agents called 'vesicants' or 'blister agents', which include lewisite, sulphur mustard and nitrogen mustard,” the report said, adding that the experts had said it was possible that survivors had been exposed to a combination of chemicals in addition to blister agents.

The report also shows satellite images of scorched earth in the Jebel Marra area, along with dozens of photos of children bearing large lesions after alleged exposure to chemical warfare blister agents.

Khartoum denies

The Sudanese government, for its part, has strongly denied Amnesty's accusation that it had used chemical weapons in Darfur. 

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Garib Allah al-Khidir dismissed the report, calling it "fabricated and baseless".

‘’The allegations of chemical weapons use by the Sudanese Armed Forces is baseless, unfounded and fabricated,’’ he said.

“Darfur is an open region in front of the international community. UN peacekeepers are there and they didn’t notice these kinds of weapons. Many international envoys have also visited the region but they haven't reported that [i.e., the use of any chemical weapons],’’ he added.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Eylül 2016, 08:54