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Sudan: Opportunity to investigate Darfur chemical attacks must not be squandered

    March 07, 2017

    Member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must demand a proper investigation into alleged chemical attacks by Sudanese government forces in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur, said Amnesty International today, as the OPCW’s Executive Council begins its four-day meeting in The Hague.

    In a shocking report published in September 2016, Amnesty International revealed credible evidence of the repeated use of what are believed to be chemical weapons, against civilians, including very young children, from January to August 2016.

    “These brutal attacks left an estimated 200 to 250 people dead and scores more with horrific injuries, and the OPCW must fully and independently investigate them. Failure by member states to trigger the investigation would be a monumental and shameful abdication of duty,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Some states have expressed concern at this cruel use of chemical agents on civilians, but that is not enough. They must ensure concrete steps are taken to determine the full nature and extent of Sudan’s chemical weapons programme, and demand that Sudan fully cooperates with the OPCW.”

    Amnesty International is calling on member states to seek clarification from the Sudanese government on the alleged chemical attacks in Jebel Marra. In the absence of this clarification, member states should request an on-site challenge inspection in accordance with Article IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The international community must also apply political pressure on the Government of Sudan to ensure that it permits United Nations and African Union peacekeepers, as well as aid agencies, unfettered access to Jebel Marra, to provide vital humanitarian assistance, establish operating bases and implement proactive patrols.