---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "John Ashworth" <ashworth.j...@gmail.com>
Date: 13 Oct 2016 07:17
Subject: [sudans-john-ashworth] Sudan and chemical weapons – a serial
To: "Group" <sudans-john-ashwo...@googlegroups.com>

1. Sudan and chemical weapons – a serial offender?

 IRIN 11/10/16

An Amnesty International investigation that has put the spotlight on
the Sudan government’s possible use of chemical weapons against
civilians in the western region of Darfur, may not be the only
instance of the security forces allegedly launching chemical attacks.

Witnesses in South Kordofan, another region resisting government
control, also report seeing civilians with symptoms suggesting
chemical weapons’ exposure, from as recently as April.

The Amnesty report, released in late September, claimed government
aircraft conducted at least 30 chemical attacks in the remote Jebel
Marra region of Darfur this year. Based on testimony from caregivers
and survivors, it said that as many as 250 people may have been

Two separate, independent chemical weapons experts concluded that the
injuries and reported symptoms suggested a chemical attack from
blister agents such as sulfur mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard

Symptoms reported by 56 witnesses included bloody vomiting and
diarrhoea; skin blisters and rashes which hardened; as well as eye and
respiratory problems.

The government has denied the allegations.

Not just Darfur

Further south, in the Nuba Mountains region of South Kordofan, aid
workers and local officials have also reported suspected chemical
weapons use by the government. If accurate, the reports suggest a more
deliberate and wide-ranging campaign by Khartoum against its restive

Without soil samples, it’s impossible to verify the allegations, but
medical officials told IRIN they have seen symptoms consistent with
chemical weapons exposure stretching back over at least four years of

Tom Catena, the only surgeon at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel,
said the first incident he observed of a possible chemical attack was
in April 2012, during fighting in Talodi town.

Eighteen victims of a government air raid were taken to the hospital,
where they reported seeing grey smoke from the bombing turning white.

“The people who were exposed to the smoke said they became paralyzed,
had blurred vision, vomiting and some with diarrhoea,” the renowned
surgeon said. “Several said they couldn’t move their bodies for
several hours, but eventually regained full function.”

The symptoms could be the result of exposure to organophosphates such
as insecticides and herbicides, or nerve agents, he said.

The second incident took place around late March to early April this
year in the embattled town of Al Azraq, where Catena said similar
symptoms were identified.

Ali Abdelrahman, director of the Nuba Mountains Relief, Rehabilitation
and Development Organization (NRRDO) – a community-based support group
– said his NGO has also come across cases of suspected chemical
attacks on civilians in the Nuba Mountains. “But the problem is, we do
not have the technical devices required to confirm these cases,” he

The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières reported the suspected
use of chemical weapons as far back as 1999 in air attacks on
Equatoria province, in what is now South Sudan.

Evidence problem

Repeated calls by IRIN to the Sudan Armed Forces for comment went
unanswered. But a foreign ministry official, Abdel-Ghani Al-Na’im, had
earlier dismissed the Amnesty report as “mere tendentious claims”.

Reaching a firm conclusion on the government’s alleged use of chemical
weapons remains difficult. Sudan has effectively blocked access by
international organisations and the media to the conflict areas in
both Darfur and the Nuba Mountains.

Amnesty International said it was unable to collect soil and blood
samples, and instead had to rely on interviews, satellite imagery and
analysis of photographs of injuries.

The hybrid UN and African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) has also
been unable to corroborate Amnesty’s findings because its movements
are limited by the authorities.

“Over the past year, UNAMID has consistently requested and been denied
full and unhindered access to conflict areas in Jebel Marra by the
government of Sudan,” a UN peacekeeping official told IRIN.


“The government is obliged to provide UNAMID with full and unhindered
freedom of movement throughout Darfur under the terms of its
Status-of-Forces Agreement with the United Nations … We continue to
urge it to do so,” the official added.

“The government of Sudan makes it nearly impossible for journalists to
report from Darfur,” said award-winning photojournalist Adriane
Ohanesian, one of the few foreign journalists to gain access to Jebel
Marra last year. “Obtaining any information from these regions in
Darfur is an endless struggle.”

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an
international anti-chemical weapons body, said more evidence was
needed before it could “draw any conclusions” based on the Amnesty

In the meantime, the human rights group is presenting its Darfur
report to the UN Security Council. According to Amnesty’s Sudan
researcher, Ahmed El-Zubeir, the report refutes the government’s claim
the situation in Darfur is stable.

The area of the Jebel Marra where the chemical weapons were allegedly
used is controlled by rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by
Abdel Wahid al-Nur, who is not part of a shaky peace process.

The related conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile are
being fought by rebels against an authoritarian government in Khartoum
they regard as bent on exploiting and marginalising the country’s
ethnic minorities.

“Granting foreigners access would reveal what [the government]
routinely denies,” said Abdelrahman, with NRRDO. “It will incur more
investigations into [government] violence, [and] atrocities



2. Sudan may prove the exception to the rule on chemical warfare in Africa

Africa is a leading continent in stopping chemical warfare – so what’s
happening in Sudan?

12 OCT 2016 00:00 SIMON ALLISON
Mail & Guardian

The African continent is a key player in the global fight against
chemical warfare.

But the recent Amnesty International report into the alleged use of
chemical weapons in Sudan makes for difficult reading.

Using satellite imagery, expert analysis and more than 200 interviews
with affected civilians, Amnesty concluded that the Sudanese
government is responsible for more than 30 chemical attacks this year,
all in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur.

“The scale and brutality of these attacks is hard to put into words.
The images and videos we have seen in the course of our research are
truly shocking; in one a young child is screaming with pain before
dying; many photos show young children covered in lesions and
blisters. Some were unable to breathe and vomiting blood,” said Tirana
Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Research.

Amnesty concluded that the Sudanese government is behind more than 30
chemical attacks this year alone.

If true, this represents a disturbing escalation in the type of force
that the Sudanese government is willing to use against its population.
“This suspected use of chemical weapons represents not only a new low
in the catalogue of crimes under international law by the Sudanese
military against civilians in Darfur, but also a new level of hubris
by the government towards the international community. The use of
chemical weapons is a war crime,” said Hassan.

It is important to note, however, that the Amnesty report has yet to
be independently verified, and the Organisation for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been careful not to jump to any
conclusions. “Without further information and evidence being made
available, it is not possible at this stage to draw any conclusions
based on the content of the report,” it commented in a statement.

The Sudanese government has denied Amnesty’s claims. “Amnesty’s report
is incorrect because the situation on the ground does not need
intensive bombing as there is no real presence of rebels anymore.
There is also a clear order to our troops not to target rebels if they
happen to be in villages or in areas inhabited by civilians,” said
Sudanese army spokesman, Brigadier Ahmed Khalifa a-Shami.

The furore around the possible use of chemical weapons in Sudan masks
a bigger truth, however. Even assuming that Amnesty’s report is
correct, Sudan would be the exception that proves the rule.

And the rule is that the African continent is a key player in the
global fight against chemical warfare. “I wouldn’t be too worried
about further proliferation of chemical weapons in Africa,” said Noël
Stott, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies.

Almost all African countries are party to the Chemical Weapons
Convention – a comprehensive international treaty that outlaws the
production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It’s a very
technical treaty with plenty of regulations on what chemicals are safe
to use commercially and how to make sure they stay that way. In other
words, the treaty is a serious commitment – and one that African
countries have enthusiastically made.

Even Angola, which had long held out on ratifying the treaty for fear
of damaging its commercial chemical industry, finally deposited its
instrument of accession with the OPCW in September 2015. The only
non-signatories in Africa are Egypt and South Sudan. Egypt, which is
believed to have its own chemical weapons stockpiles, has said that it
will not sign the treaty until Israel does so too, and South Sudan,
the world’s newest nation, is unlikely to do so as long as its
political instability continues.

These national commitments have been bolstered by strong support from
the African Union. “The AU has stated that it would like Africa to be
a chemical-weapon free zone, and they’re quite active politically in
ensuring that no country does develop chemical weapons,” said Stott.

In 2006, the AU signed a memorandum of understanding with the OPCW, in
which the two organisations pledged to cooperate closely to implement
the Chemical Weapons Convention on the continent. Their relationship
remains strong: in September this year, the AU lauded the OPCW and
other international actors following the destruction of Libya’s
chemical weapons stockpile, left over from the Gaddafi regime.

“This milestone demonstrates how the international community, through
a strong partnership and a sense of collective responsibility, can
work collaboratively and constructively in countering the risk of
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” said the AU in a
statement attributed to commission chairperson, Nkosazana

Of course, none of this is much comfort to the civilians in Darfur who
are, according to Amnesty, dealing with the devastating health
consequences of a chemical weapons attack.

But for the rest of the continent, it is encouraging to know that if
the reports are true, they would be in defiance of continental and
global norms and unlikely to be repeated anywhere else in Africa any
time soon.

Africa’s got plenty of problems to worry about, but thanks to a
concerted international effort, state-sponsored chemical warfare is
being combated effectively. – ISS Today

Simon Allison is a consultant for the Institute of Security Studies in


John Ashworth


+254 725 926 297 (Kenya mobile)
+211 919 695 362 (South Sudan mobile)
+44 787 976 8030 (UK mobile)
+88 216 4334 0735 (Thuraya satphone)
Skype: jashworth1

PO Box 52002 - 00200, Nairobi, Kenya

This is a personal e-mail address and the contents do not necessarily
reflect the views of any organisation

The content of this message does not necessarily reflect John Ashworth's
views. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, John Ashworth is not the author
of the content and the source is always cited.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"sudan-john-ashworth" group.
To post to this group, send email to sudan-john-ashwo...@googlegroups.com
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to sudan-john-ashworth-
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.co.za/
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"sudans-john-ashworth" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an
email to sudans-john-ashworth+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com.
Visit this group at https://groups.google.com/group/sudans-john-ashworth.
For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

To post to this group, send email to southsudankob@googlegroups.com
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
Visit this group at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/southsudankob
View this message at 
For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"South Sudan Info - The Kob" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email 
to southsudankob+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com.
To post to this group, send email to SouthSudanKob@googlegroups.com.
Visit this group at https://groups.google.com/group/SouthSudanKob.
To view this discussion on the web visit 
For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Reply via email to