Living under aerial bombardments

MSF states that the Sudan violates international humanitarian law
PRESS RELEASE Nairobi, 20 March, 2000 - Today Médecins Sans Frontières has issued a report on aerial bombardments in Southern Sudan. The report includes testimonies collected over the year 1999 and tends to demonstrate that the Sudanese Air Force is deliberately targeting schools and hospitals, causing indiscriminate deaths and injuries and contributing to a climate of terror among the civilian population. "Evidence has been found and serious allegations have been made that weapons of internationally prohibited nature are regularly employed against the civilian population, such as cluster bombs and bombs with chemical contents," states Thierry Durand, Director of Operations for MSF in the preambule of the report. The document contains a letter from the Director-general of the Organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons to the President of Médecins Sans Frontières James Orbinski, complete testimonies of the victims of the aerial bombings, a list of the bombings and maps of locations that were bombed in 1999, and a description of the casualties per site. According to the report the Sudanese Air Force contributes to a policy of terror that provokes new displacements of the population and an increased precariousness of the civilian population in Southern Sudan. Says an MSF worker quoted in the report: "On my arrival in Kaju Kaji (Equatoria, South Sudan) I was welcomed by the Antonov, which occasionally bombs this area. The plane was flying over the hospital and all the patients ran for shelter in the compound. At the end of February 1999 the plane dropped five bombs in town and two near the hospital, injuring one girl who suffered deep cut wounds on her right heel. The most fortunate thing is that you can hear the plane from a long distance and with luck you have time to seek shelter." Says an inpatient ward attendant: "I was in the operating room with the surgeon, attending a patient who had a shoulder injury. The patient was under anesthaesia. The Antonov came, we heard the sound and we did not know what to do. We finally decided to remain and we just lied down on the floor. The plane flew over and a bomb was dropped and fell just inside the operating room, fortunately without injuring the patient or us. We then got up, took the patient to the unit and went into a bunker because the plane was still rotating over our heads." MSF believes that the information contained in its report on aerial bombardments confirms that the human rights of the civilian population in Southern Sudan are regularly and deliberately violated and this must stop immediately.