The Government of Sudan Escalates Bombing Attacks on Innocent Civilians

May 26, 2001 (PRNewswire)

"With an estimated 2 million deaths, the civil war in Sudan is by far the bloodiest in Africa's recent history. Although Sudan's Islamic government said on Thursday it would unilaterally cease air strikes in the south, the government shows no sign of lessening its brutal conduct," said Sudanese Bishop Macram Max Gassis.

On Thursday and Friday, unexpected and ferocious assaults by Sudanese government forces swept through the Nuba Mountains. The priests and personnel working with Bishop Gassis were forced to hide in the bush. Their lives are at severe risk. Sudanese government forces appear to have cut off all exits from the areas around Kauda and Gidel.

Bishop Gassis, in Canada to raise the alarm about the on-going human rights violations by the Sudanese regime, issued the following statement:

"I invite all people of good will to pray for the people and my personnel in the Nuba Mountains. They are under a massive, on-going bombardment and military attack. Many villages have been burned, many people have been killed, many have become refugees as a result of these attacks. The elderly and the children are particularly vulnerable. My priests and other personnel are being hunted.

"I appeal to the international community for immediate intervention to create a cease-fire. For too long the forces of destruction of the regime in Khartoum have been gathering, using the money they receive from the oil that they take from below our own feet to buy arms. Now they have struck. What will the world do? Will it allow another holocaust -- this time of the Nuba people -- to occur?"

Bishop Gassis, 62, of El Obeid diocese in Sudan's heartland, has been persona non grata in his own country since the late 1980s for his stand on human rights. From his base in Nairobi, Kenya, the exiled churchman continues to be the voice of Sudan's 'voiceless' and the only regular source of relief supplies and hope for the Nuba and the Dinka of Abyei, peoples on the front line of the country's 18 year-old civil war.

The Nuba, one of Africa's oldest indigenous cultures, have lost nearly 300,000 people -- Muslims, Christians and Africans of traditional belief -- a third of their entire population, since 1989, when the current National Islamic Front (NIF) regime seized power in the country's capital, Khartoum. This figure rivals death tolls for the entire Balkan war.

According to international agencies, more than 200,000 Nuba remain incarcerated in government-operated "peace camps" in the north. The "free" Nuba in the mountains are routinely subjected to aerial bombardment of civilian areas, food embargoes, militia raids, enslavement of women and children and the destruction of livestock and agriculture.