Letters To The Times: December 9th 2011
Stop the genocide in South Sudan
December 9 2011 12:01AM
Unless the international community intervenes, Khartoum will believe it can continue its genocidal policies with impunity
Genocide is occurring today in the Republic of Sudan, a country for which the Britain has a special responsibility and with which we have a special relationship. The timely debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday (Dec 7) should serve as a wake-up call.
President Al-Bashir, responsible for the war against South Sudan in which two million perished and four million were displaced, and indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in Darfur, is unleashing military offensives against his own people in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, with further crimes against humanity.
Aerial bombardment has forced 400,000 civilians to flee from their homes; 23,000 have fled into the fragile new Republic of South Sudan, with 300-500 arriving every day; a further 40,000 have fled into Ethiopia; thousands still in South Kordofan are sheltering from the bombs in snake-infested caves; killer diseases and severe malnutrition are rising; and Khartoum denies humanitarian organisations access to the victims. With the onset of the dry season, Khartoum has escalated its offensive which will create a catastrophe of even more massive proportions.
Bombing is an almost daily occurrence, with reports of 160 bombs dropped on civilians between September 13 and October 13, and 40 bombs in the last three days of November. On November 10 four bombs targeted Yida, a refugee camp in Unity State, across the border into South Sudan. More recently there have been reports of deployment of long-range missiles against civilians.
Mr Al-Bashir has dismissed the elected governors of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan and imposed a governor, also indicted by the ICC, who has overseen the slaughter of civilians, many of them in front of UN personnel; and there are credible reports of mass graves.
Unless the international community intervenes, Khartoum will believe it can continue its genocidal policies with impunity. It is high time that Britain led the way by imposing targeted sanctions, such as restrictions on travel to the UK, for senior members of the Khartoum government, many of whom enjoy visiting their residences in London.
The regime in Khartoum has, for decades, continued to kill while it talks. Unless we do more than talk, we will risk being seen to be complicit with the genocide unfolding in Sudan today.
Lord Alton of Liverpool