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Subj: Bombing reports
Date: 11/8/00 5:30:06 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: SudanInfonet


November 7, 2000
Contact: Jeff Drumtra


Aerial bombings of civilian and humanitarian targets in Sudan are occurring
far more frequently than previously realized, according to new data compiled
by humanitarian aid workers in Sudan.

Sudanese government military planes have bombed civilian and humanitarian
targets in Sudan at least 113 times this year--including twice in the past
four days--according to a review of bombing incidents by international
humanitarian relief workers and local church organizations in southern
Sudan. The bombing data has been analyzed by the U.S. Committee for
Refugees (USCR).

The aerial bombings have intensified this year. At least 65 bombardments
were reported during 1999; at least 40 bombings occurred during 1998.
Sudanese government planes have bombed civilian targets at least 240 times
during the past four years.

The Sudanese government's deliberate aerial bombings kill innocent
civilians, disrupt international relief efforts, and push families from
their land. The aerial attacks are serious violations of international
humanitarian norms, yet international leaders routinely ignore the bombings
and their terrifying effect on the local Sudanese population.

U.S. President Bill Clinton issued a rare statement about the bombings last
month, noting that they are "egregious abuses" and that he is "deeply
concerned." Clinton stated that "the government of Sudan has bombed
civilian and humanitarian locations more than 60 times during the past

In fact, the new research by agencies in the field and compiled by USCR
indicates that nearly twice that many bombings have occurred this year.
Even the new bombing compilation--113 aerial attacks in the first 10 months
of this year--remains incomplete and undoubtedly fails to include
significant numbers of bombardments that were never reported in remote
populated areas of southern Sudan.

The new bombing information for 2000 is based on research by three sources:
the UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan, a consortium of more than 30
international aid organizations; international relief groups that operate in
areas inaccessible to OLS; and research by John Ashworth, an analyst of aid
programs operated by local church groups in southern Sudan.

"In cases where a town is bombed for the first time...the people sometimes
do not react quickly enough and casualties can be high.... People are
traumatized and often live in a state of fear," the new report by Mr.
Ashworth states. "Many in the government of Sudan believe...that all
southerners are the enemy.... Thus all are [seen as] legitimate targets. A
similar argument is used to justify the bombing of clearly-marked hospitals.
The government of Sudan says that these hospitals treat wounded soldiers.
Neither of these arguments has any basis in international human rights law."

The Ashworth report notes that information about the extent of the bombings
was previously scarce because "only in the year 2000 has the bombing of
civilians become a major advocacy issue." The study states that
"reports...of attacks on civilian targets were never collated and were still
viewed as occasional random aberrations" until humanitarian relief groups
began pressing for a stronger international response against the bombings.

The Ashworth report complains that attention tends to focus on bombing
damage suffered by international aid programs more than on the suffering of
local Sudanese bombing victims. "In the month of July, over 250 bombs were
dropped in at least 33 incidents," the report says. "Only a handful of
these targeted [relief agencies]. The rest were aimed at Sudanese
civilians. It would be nice to see the international community speak out as
strongly on behalf of them as it does on behalf of a few aid workers."

The Ashworth report states that the Sudanese government has used aerial
bombing as a tool of "ethnic cleansing" and to disrupt normal life in the
south. "The psychological and economic effects, as well as the deaths,
injuries, and physical damage, are intended to reduce morale, weaken
society, and make development more difficult for southerners..." the report

The Ashworth report states that many local church groups have called on the
international community to counter the Sudanese government's aerial bombings
by imposing a military "no-fly zone" in southern Sudan. The report
concludes that enforcing a no-fly zone is tactically doable and "should be

An estimated 2 million people have died of causes linked to Sudan's civil
war during the past 17 years. Some 4.4 million Sudanese have been forced
from their homes-the largest uprooted population in the world.


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Last modified: March 12, 2001