A new report by SUDO UK, a UK-based charity that monitors Sudan's various conflict areas, highlights 56 specific incidents of human rights abuses; 41 of which were committed by largely pro-Government militias, 6 by Government forces or officials, and 3 each from the armed opposition, ethnic militias, and unknown bandits respectively.
While the report highlights human rights abuses and attacks against civilians across Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile State, the brief section concerning Blue Nile is particularly interesting. Blue Nile has witnessed some of the most severe war crimes since Sudanese government forces launched a major military operation in that state in 2011. The government's attempt to crush the armed SPLM-N movement there, as well as in nearby South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) has largely failed, and government soldiers and their proxy militias have once again resorted to targeting civilians on a massive scale.
Scorched Earth In Blue Nile
Blue Nile remains one of the more difficult conflict areas of Sudan to access.
On September 1, 2011, SPLA-N forces in Blue Nile came under attack by Sudanese government forces in Damazin, the capital of that state. The SPLA-N governor was promptly overthrown. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of mobilized Sudanese government troops swept through Blue Nile in a campaign that witnessed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Less prepared for a conflict in Blue Nile, SPLA-N forces were quickly pushed south to a thin strip of territory along the South Sudan and Ethiopian border. Small pockets of SPLA-N resistance remained in various areas across Blue Nile, such as in the Ingessana Hills. These areas have witnessed particularly brutal Sudanese government actions, much of which goes unreported as access to these areas is extremely rare. While the SPLA-N has slightly improved it's situation in Blue Nile, government forces still hold the upper hand.
This short video made two years ago by filmmakers Matthew LeRiche and Viktor Pesenti gives a stark visual of what the brutal crisis in Blue Nile looks like:
Confirmed Incidents In July
The new SUDO UK report makes it clear that the government's relentless targeting of the Ingessana Hills and the people living there continues today. Aerial bombings, enforced starvation, and targeted rape remain key elements of the government's strategy across Blue Nile, with the Ingessana Hills and other frontline areas witnessing some of the worst war crimes to date.
Here's a few confirmed incidents from the report:
July 8, 2015: A 68-year-old farmer by the name of Hassan Al-Mardi was arrested by Military Intelligence after the former presented the latter with a Kalashnikov he had found in his farm situated in Belang, south of Demazin. The officials from Military Intelligence accused Hassan Al-Mardi, resident in Al-Higra neighbourhood in Demazin, of belonging to SPLM-N and have transferred him to the force division army headquarters in Demazin.
Hassan Al-Mardi is being held in solitary confinement and has been subject to torture. Sources state that during the holy month of Ramadan he was only fed at 8pm, approximately one hour after Itfar.
July 10-11, 2015:
Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLM-N have forced the displacement of 4,000 civilians from the Funj ethnic group from villages 9 and 10, in Geisan locality, to the cities of Roseris and Demazin.
July 11, 2015: An estimated 2,500 civilians from the Ingessanna ethnic group were displaced from Dendro, in Kurmuk locality, to Al-Shaheed Afendi, an IDP settlement camp south of Demazin, and Reih Balak, north of Demazin.
The displaced have told SUDO (UK) monitors that they fled their homes following an attack by Government soldiers, which was characterised by the destruction of homes and acts of sexual violence. Testimonies from the victims stated that soldiers from the SAF raped their daughters and their wives in front of them. Those that resisted were deemed by the Sudanese Army as members of SPLM-N and faced summary execution. Testimonies further note the disappearance of men and the confiscation of personal possessions including livestock
Those who were displaced to Al-Shaheed Afendi do not have access to shelter, water, and food, and are furthermore suffering as a result of the heavy rains.
The Ingessenna are often targeted by the Sudanese Authorities in Blue Nile as they belong to the same ethnic group as Malik Agar, Chair of the SPLM-N, and are deemed loyal supporters of the SPLM-N.
July 15, 2015: National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) situated in Belgowa, Kurmuk locality, have forced civilians working in the traditional mining of gold to leave the mines in Jebel Ansar, Sharia Al-Mout, Al-Tartra, Banjadeed, and Belgowa. This decision has affected an estimated 10,000 civilians who have flocked to the region from all parts of Sudan.
This follows previous forced displacements of the Ingessana and Dowala ethnic groups who were forced to leave their land and were consequently removed of their wealth as a result of the war in Blue Nile State.
July 15, 2015: Sudanese Military Intelligence forcibly displaced 5,000 civilians from Belang, Kurmuk locality, to Shin Tashrab, Demazin, where there is no shelter, water, or health services available to the affected people.
In Belang, Military Intelligence has destroyed hand pumps, agricultural crops and livestock, in addition to closing schools and health facilities to ward off against resettlement in the near future.
The displaced are from the Ragrek, Dowala and Ingessanna ethnic groups and have been accused by the Sudanese Army of providing supplies and intelligence to the SPLM-N.