Serving God with all of our hearts no matter where we are
Monday, February 04, 2013
Though we are safe in Melut, people are really suffering in other areas of this country!
By Alex Neve, Secretary
General, Amnesty International Canada
Posted on 30 January 2013
“Just stop the planes.” That was the plea
made by the feisty, determined Khadija when I interviewed her in front of the
remains of her home in a small village in Sudan¹s Southern
Kordofan state last week.
If only it could be that simple. It certainly
ought to be.
A month earlier a lumbering Sudanese Antonov
aircraft had passed overhead and unleashed a deadly cargo of five bombs in
rapid succession. Khadija was at the nearby market at the time and therefore
escaped injury. But when she hurried back to her home, pure horror awaited her.
One elderly woman, unable to run, had been literally blown apart and Khadija later undertook the grim task of
collecting her neighbour’s body parts.
Khadija also found that her tukul had been
burned by the bomb and that all of her clothing and worldly possessions had
been destroyed. Another woman, just passing by at the time, lay with a shrapnel
injury in her foot.
Khadija’s story is one among very many that I
heard. This campaign of death, fear and destruction against the civilian
population of Southern Kordofan has been
ongoing for close to 20 months now.
Indiscriminate bombs are wantonly rolled out
of the back of the Antonovs, flying high above, with no ability to guide them
to proper military targets. And, inevitably, many of the bombs fall where
civilians live, sleep, grow food, go to market, fetch water, pray or attend
This relentless campaign of death raining
down from the skies has killed or injured untold numbers of people over the
past 20 months. Its impact, however, is more insidious than the harrowing toll
of deaths and injuries alone. Because by now the mere mention of an Antonov,
let alone the sound of its approach, is a source of panic and terror.
People run for the nearest foxhole (nearly
everyone has dug one in their compound) or they run for the safety of rocks and
caves in the region’s NubaMountains. And they hide
and they wait.
And everything about their lives is turned
upside down. While fleeing and hiding they cannot tend crops. They cannot look
out for livestock. And day by day, therefore, food supplies have dwindled to
Add to that the Sudanese government’s cruel
refusal to allow independent humanitarian access to this area so that food and
other relief can be distributed and the gravity of this crisis has become
There is absolutely no doubt that this
indefensible bombing campaign violates international humanitarian law the
repeated indiscriminate air attacks, as well as possibly direct attacks on
civilians, by the Sudanese armed forces, constitute war crimes. So why does it
attract so little international attention? Security Council resolutions urge
and encourage but do not condemn and deplore what is happening. The Sudanese
government plays games with UN, African Union and other officials, promising
that aid access will open up, but consistently failing to follow through.
was asked “why?” at every turn. “Why don’t
we matter? Why doesn’t anyone care about us?”
Or, as Khadija put it, “why doesn’t someone
just stop the planes?” That is precisely what has to happen.