A 103-page report by Amnesty International accusing the Sudanese government of using chemical weapons repeatedly on its civilians in remote areas that are inaccessible and a part of Darfur has gained international recognition due to the chilling details it includes.
The report shares that there have been at least 30 chemical attacks that have hit the remote part of the Jebel Marra region since the beginning of the year, noting that the impacts are inhumane and considered war crimes. A portion of the report indicates how the bombs came from the sky, then exploded while scattering dark smoke, along with a horrendous smell that is “like rotten eggs.” It notes how some people die right away from the effects, while others who survive fall ill almost immediately, with symptoms including “vomiting, coughing [and] struggling to breathe. Over time many [break] out in green or white blisters. Others[ reported feeling] their skin slowly harden, then fall off,” as NBC News shares.
— Natasha Noman (@NatashaNoman) September 29, 2016
The lengthy report, entitled “Scorched Earth, Poisoned Air”, includes satellite images, testimonies of survivors of the attacks and photographs that prove what is being said about the war crimes being committed in the region. Tirana Hassan of Amnesty spoke with NBC about the unthinkable and horrific actions being taken against civilians.
“It’s sheer cruelty — these sorts of weapons are designed to inflict cruelty and they kill.”
One survivor shares about the long-lasting impacts he has suffered since inhaling the poisonous air.
“When the bomb exploded I inhaled the poisonous air, which I am smelling even now,” one survivor said — cutting an interview short because he was in too much pain to speak. “After about two weeks my skin started falling off.”
The last attack was said to be September 9 of this year. His account is one of many like it that are the results of chemical weapons use by the Sudanese government. However, Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed stated that the report by Amnesty was “utterly unfounded,” and that the country is not in possession of any chemical weapons.
“The allegations of use of chemical weapons by Sudanese Armed Forces is baseless and fabricated.”
The region that has reportedly been heavily impacted by the chemical weapons, Jebel Marra, is relatively remote and cut off from the rest of the world. There are no journalists, or humanitarians working for their benefit, nor United Nations peacekeepers due to the government of Sudan having launched an offensive in January to settle an ongoing rebellion.
Amnesty states that the secrecy of events, and inaccessibility to the remote location, prompted them to begin conducting research for the war crimes. They were able to corroborate dozens of interviews with the satellite images and also consulted with two experts on chemical weapons.
— Caroline Courtney (@carojcourtney) September 29, 2016
An expert quoted in the report states that the combination of eyewitness accounts, photos, and symptom analysis are enough to make him assured and “very certain” that there have been chemical weapons “of some sort” used.
In attempting to narrow down which chemical agents were responsible for the deaths and painful symptoms survivors are experiencing, the experts determined that evidence points to a class of chemical weapon known as vesicants, also referred to as blister agents, like sulfur mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard. The experts also noted that more than one chemical might have been used.
NBC shares details as to the violence and war that has raged on in Sudan for over a decade.
“Darfur has been racked by war since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum. The U.N. estimates that 300,000 have been killed in Darfur and 2.6 million others displaced. All sides in the conflict have been accused of atrocities: Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has an outstanding arrest warrant from the Hague for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.”
[Feature Image by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images]