Conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas continued. Initiatives to negotiate peaceful resolutions and humanitarian access between the government, ethnic tribes, and rebel groups were attempted throughout the year.
Killings: In Darfur and the Two Areas, government forces and government-aligned militias killed civilians, including by repeated targeting and indiscriminate aerial and artillery bombardment of civilian areas. Ground attacks often followed aerial bombardments. Rebel forces also killed civilians during attacks.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: All parties to the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas were accused of perpetrating torture and other human rights violations and abuses. Government forces abused persons detained in connection with armed conflict as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) suspected of having links to rebel groups. There were continuing reports that government security forces, progovernment and antigovernment militias, and other armed persons raped women and children.
Child Soldiers: The law prohibits the recruitment of children and provides criminal penalties for perpetrators. In July 2014 the government enacted a law raising the age of conscription into the Popular Defense Forces (PDF) from 16 to 18 years and establishing 18 as the minimum age for joining the national reserve service and the national service.
Many of the armed movements issued commands or statements prohibiting the use or recruitment of child soldiers, including the SLA/MM in 2014, the JEM in 2012 and again during the year, the SPLM-N during the year. Allegations persisted, however, that the armed movements, government forces, and government-aligned militias had child soldiers within their ranks.
According to several reports, the government provided material and logistical support in the country to South Sudanese opposition group Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition, which was widely reported to recruit and use child soldiers. In late 2014 the United Nations observed children under the age of 15 in SAF uniforms carrying weapons in Darfur; however, there were no similar reported observations during the year involving children with government forces.
In January the National Council for Child Welfare reported an estimated 2,100 children had been recruited by armed movements. The UN Panel of Experts on Sudan reported visiting former JEM child soldiers in their places of detention during the year.
In November a representative of Sudan’s Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Commission claimed the SAF and PDF did not recruit or use child soldiers
In May 2014 the United Nations reported 405 children formerly associated with armed groups received reintegration support.
Many children lacked documents verifying their age. Children’s rights organizations believed armed groups, including the SAF, exploited this lack of documentation to recruit or retain children. The SAF continued to deny recruiting children and having children in its ranks.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: All parties to the conflict in Darfur obstructed the work of humanitarian organizations, UNAMID, and other UN agencies, increasing the displacement of civilians and abuse of IDPs. The government also continued to deny access to humanitarian organizations and UN agencies in all SPLM-N-controlled areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, isolating an estimated 800,000 IDPs and severely limiting access to lifesaving humanitarian assistance. The SPLM-N failed to respond to calls to negotiate access for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct vaccination campaigns in the Two Areas as a standalone issue but insisted on including the campaign in broader political negotiations for increased humanitarian access. Violence, insecurity, the denial of visas and travel permits, and refusal of access to international organizations reduced the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide needed services.
Despite a joint communique released by the government and the United Nations, government forces frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance. The government restricted or denied permission for humanitarian assessments, refused to approve technical agreements, changed operational procedures, copied NGO files, confiscated NGO property, questioned humanitarian workers at length and monitored their personal correspondence, delayed issuance of visas and travel permits, restricted travel, and publicly accused humanitarian workers of aiding rebel groups. Unidentified armed groups also targeted humanitarian workers for kidnapping and ransom.
In Darfur fighting involving government forces, rebels, and ethnic militias continued. Fighting was often along communal lines. These armed groups, including the RSF, which NISS controlled, killed and injured civilians, raped women and children, looted properties, targeted IDP camps, and burned villages in all of Darfur’s five states. These acts resulted in approximately 243, 000 newly displaced persons by December. An increase in criminality and banditry also contributed to a deterioration of overall security in Darfur.
In its January 19 report, the UN Panel of Experts on Sudan characterized the government strategy under Operation Decisive Summer as one of “collective punishment of villages and communities from which armed opposition groups are believed to come or operate.” The report described a pattern of air attacks followed by RSF ground attacks on civilian areas, including looting of villages and an “especially high number” of killings. The panel concluded that the use of airstrikes against civilian targets violates Security Council resolution 1591 (2005).
In its June 19 report, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor for Darfur cited an example of 10 villages burned in East Jebel Marra by the RSF on January 26 following a SAF aerial bombardment.
Progovernment militiamen carried out dozens of attacks on civilians in Darfur, including 115 killings, 21 incidents of sexual abuse, 56 injuries, eight kidnappings, and 19 arrests in which individuals were detained inhumanely. The RSF destroyed and plundered water wells, food stores, and community resources, including livestock.
All states in Darfur were under varying states of emergency.
Between December 2014 and October, 915 cases of criminality and banditry included 256 killings. The attacks included rape, armed robbery, abduction, ambush, livestock theft, assault/harassment, and burglary and were allegedly carried out primarily by Arab militias, but also by government forces, unknown assailants, and rebel elements.
The government provided support, including training, weapons, and ammunition, to the RSF. The government seldom took action against government forces that attacked civilians. Rebel forces received financial support from foreign sources.
Reports claimed ethnic militias affiliated with government security forces, including the Border Guards and Central Reserve Police, supported their ethnic kin in intercommunal conflicts, further increasing the number of deaths. Sources documented attacks by progovernment militia on civilians in areas controlled by both rebels and the government, including east Jebel Marra and Giraida, South Darfur.
Intercommunal violence became the most deadly consequence of the conflict in Darfur. The continued utilization and arming of local militias as proxies and the continued influence of these groups in part due to their heavy armament, coupled with widespread impunity, allowed the conflict to spread systemically as clashes over land, cattle, and other resources intensified. Clashes between heavily armed communal groups, particularly in East, South, and North Darfur, resulted in significant casualties (dead and injured) on all sides.
In May, one incident in East Darfur resulted in 107 deaths, including women and children, when heavily armed Rizeigat attacked the capital of the Ma’alia tribe, Abu Karinka. There was no progress toward a peace agreement between the Ma’alia and Rizeigat.
In September 2014 the Rizeigat signed a peace agreement with the Beni Hussein tribe. There were a few minor skirmishes, but the reconciliation efforts appeared to be holding; members of both groups formed a joint committee earlier in the year to oversee the reconciliation.
Despite the Berti and Zevadivah tribes signing cessation of hostilities agreements in March and July, fighting reignited between the groups in Mellit, North Darfur. While the government sent troops to stabilize the situation, both in North Darfur and in other instances of intercommunal violence, fighting persisted in the absence of viable reconciliation processes.
In addition to deaths attributed to intercommunal clashes, many deaths continued to be attributed to the SAF and militia groups. Security deteriorated in North Darfur. In the Jebel Marra area of East Darfur violence, including indiscriminate SAF aerial and artillery bombardments, continued.
The government took few actions to implement provisions of the chapter on justice and reconciliation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. Inadequate funding for the Darfur Regional Authority’s (DRA’s) Commission on Justice, Truth, and Reconciliation hindered the commission’s work. In May 2014 the DRA created the Justice Committee and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The committees were charged with determining compensation for Darfuri victims and formulating recommendations for resolving Darfur’s conflict; they remained ineffective during the year, however.
The general prosecutor for crimes in Darfur continued to receive cases throughout the year. According to UNAMID the majority of cases brought forward largely involved minor crimes, such as theft, rather than substantive war crimes or crimes against humanity. At year’s end there was no update on the six cases referred in 2014 to the Special Court for Serious Crimes in Darfur.
As of year’s end, the AU and the United Nations had not named observers for the Special Court for Serious Crimes in Darfur.
As of year’s end, 76 JEM rebels remained imprisoned, including 25 detainees from the JEM/Dabajo faction. In April the government pardoned and released five JEM detainees from Shala Prison in El Fasher. In August authorities notified families of the remaining seven detainees in Shala Prison they would be executed within days. At that time a JEM representative stated the group was attempting to stop the proceedings by referring the case to the Darfur Peace Office. In late December the government announced it had stayed the executions.
According to UNAMID, victims of human rights violations and abuses continued to face difficulties in accessing judicial redress due to reluctance of law enforcement authorities to pursue perpetrators. Government authorities cited a lack of capacity of law enforcement authorities and lack of information in identifying the perpetrators as reasons for the lack of progress.
Low levels of investigations and prosecutions encouraged perpetrators to act with impunity and contributed to diminishing trust in the justice system. Of 314 incidents of human rights violations recorded by UNAMID, only 126 were acknowledged by the government, which initiated investigations into only 32 of them, resulting in 22 arrests; no prosecutions were reported.
Killings: Security in Darfur deteriorated due to the rise in criminal activity and intercommunal conflict, as well as continued clashes between the government and rebel factions and attacks by the government’s RSF forces on unarmed civilians in South, North, and East Darfur. SAF raids resulted in civilian casualties.
Clashes between government forces, government-armed militias, and Darfur rebel movements, notably the SLA/MM, Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid faction (SLA/AW), and Justice and Equality Movement/Gibril (JEM-Gibril), resulted in casualties on all sides.
Aerial bombardments by the SAF continued to kill and injure civilians throughout the year. UNAMID verification teams confirmed the killing of 14 civilians, including five children, during an April 1 bombing of Rowata village in Central Darfur, and another bombing, which killed one civilian and damaged a UNAMID vehicle on April 6. UNAMID received numerous other reports of SAF bombings of villages.
Ground attacks targeting civilians were also a serious problem. During a six-month period during the year, 346 crimes against civilians were reported, resulting in the loss of 216 lives.
There were many reported abuses similar to the following example: On March 4, a SAF soldier indiscriminately opened fire on civilians in a market in El Fasher, North Darfur, killing one and injuring four.
There were also numerous reported abuses against detainees, such as the following: In September an individual arrested in Jebel Mun, Darfur, was found dead one day later. Witnesses reported the individual had been tied to a tree in a stress position. The local police commissioner called for an investigation, but as of year’s end, there had been no action on the case (see section 1.c.).
Attacks on peacekeepers and humanitarian workers were also commonplace. The following examples are illustrative of a wider pattern: On September 27, one South African peacekeeper was killed and four others injured when their convoy was attacked by unidentified armed groups near Mellit, North Darfur.
On September 8, unidentified armed groups attacked a West Darfur State Ministry of Health vehicle carrying Sudanese and WHO officials, killing two.
Between January and September, 34 incidents of intercommunal conflict were reported that resulted in the deaths of 631.
Abductions: Attacks by armed militia on UNAMID increased. Militia groups carjacked UNAMID vehicles and abducted UNAMID staff for ransom (see section 1.b.). On January 29, two international UNAMID contractors on board a UNAMID bus were abducted by unknown armed men in Zalingei, Central Darfur. The captors released the contractors on June 6. Abductions of UNAMID and WHO staff took place during the year.
The United Nations continued to report cases of kidnapping of humanitarian aid workers. For example, on June 3, armed men abducted an international NGO national staff member; his body was found on August 2 near Kutum, West Darfur.
Local media reported four persons were killed and three children missing following a raid by a group of border guards on villages north of Kutum, North Darfur, on September 17 and 18.
On September 2, SLA/AW released 13 SAF soldiers who had been held prisoner in Jebel Marra since 2012.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Sexual and gender-based violence continued throughout Darfur. In 2014 the ICC prosecutor noted an increasing pattern of gang rapes of women and girls. Authorities often obstructed access to justice for rape victims. IDPs reported perpetrators of such violence were often government armed force or militia members. Assailants assaulted, raped, threatened, shot, beat, and robbed women. In its 2015 report, Men Without Mercy, Human Rights Watch reported that rape and other abuses by the RSF were “systematic.”
In January human rights organizations reported that the RSF launched a wide-scale campaign of rape of civilians, including minors, in the villages of Golo and Bardani. The United Nations was not allowed access to the area following the reports.
On June 9, NGOs reported claims that dozens of women and girls had been gang-raped by government forces in Golo, Central Darfur, without specifying the date of the incident.
UNAMID continued to document hundreds of cases of human rights violations, including unlawful killings, violations of the right to physical integrity, and cases of arbitrary arrest and detention.
On July 29, human rights observers reported one man had died while in the custody of military intelligence and expressed concern two other individuals risked torture. The body of 32-year-old Abakar Adam Ishag, showing signs of torture, including wounds sustained from a sharp object, reportedly died en route to the Teaching Hospital in El Geneina, West Darfur, on July 19. According to the report, military intelligence arrested the three individuals in West Darfur on July 17 on suspicion of providing information to the rebel JEM. The three men were believed to have been severely tortured at the Jebel Mun Military base in the Silea area of West Darfur.
According to UNAMID, between December 2014 and October, 314 incidents of human rights violations and abuses were recorded in Darfur, involving 856 victims. Of the incidents, 108 were allegedly perpetrated by government forces and 206 by unidentified armed men, the majority of whom victims described as “unidentified armed Arab men.”
Between December 2014 and October, UNAMID identified 54 cases of sexual and gender-based violence involving 93 victims, including 16 cases involving minors. Most victims were IDPs.
UN Special Representative for the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui reported in May at least 60 girls were raped in 48 incidents in Darfur in 2014. The SRSG stated 15 were verified and attributed to the armed forces, 10 to the RSF, and 35 to unidentified armed men. In Darfur it was believed most rape victims did not report incidents, and the actual number of rapes was likely much higher.
Extortion of civilians by progovernment militias was common in Darfur. In July more than 40 tollgates were erected illegally by progovernment militias on the road between El Fasher in North Darfur and Nyala in South Darfur. Persons travelling on buses and trucks were required to pay exactions before being allowed to proceed. At the end of the journey, each bus was forced to pay 1,000 SDG ($150). If not paid, passengers were beaten and assaulted by armed militiamen.
In an August report on Impunity in Sudan, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that between 2012 and 2014, the Special Court for Crimes in Darfur had only ruled on seven cases. At the time of the report’s release, 33 cases were under trial and 25 remained under investigation. None of the concluded cases had relevance to alleged violations of international human rights or humanitarian law, as stipulated by the court’s mandate.
According to the OHCHR, 52 regular courts, 94 rural courts, and 17 prosecutor’s offices existed throughout Darfur’s five states in 2014.
The government prosecuted some crimes involving government officials. Although rare, prosecutions were most common in cases involving violations against minors.
During the year an appeals court in Zalingei, Central Darfur, upheld the guilty verdict of six men, including SAF members, who gang-raped a 16-year-old girl. Authorities sentenced the perpetrators to 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine of 5,000 SDG ($760) each, and (for SAF members) dismissal from the SAF without benefits.
In two incidents in December 2014, a SAF sergeant and a police corporal raped 11-year-old girls. Authorities in Zalingei convicted the perpetrators and sentenced them to 20 years’ imprisonment. In another instance a SAF soldier raped a 27-year-old woman in Azom, Central Darfur, and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. As of November, two of these cases remained open for retrial following appeals.
In May local media reported the executive director of Kass locality in South Darfur admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl. As of November a criminal case had not been opened on the alleged incident.
In October 2014 Radio Dabanga, a media outlet with on-the-ground sources and local journalists (but which broadcasts from outside Sudan and which the government accuses of being a propaganda outlet for the armed groups of Darfur) reported SAF soldiers belonging to the military garrison near El Fasher, North Darfur, raped approximately 200 women and girls from Thabit village. The government rejected the allegations and delayed for several days UNAMID’s travel to Thabit to investigate the allegations. In February, Human Rights Watch issued a report detailing the mass rape. As of November the government had not made its full investigative report available to the public. Humanitarian and human rights groups reported other cases of sexual abuse; however, they were unable to determine the scale or nature of the attacks.
Child Soldiers: The UN SRSG for children and armed conflict reported isolated cases of recruitment by the SAF, Border Guards, and the PDF in 2014.
In November a representative from the country’s DDR Commission reported that a program to demobilize 225 Liberation and Justice Movement child soldiers in West Darfur was in progress. The program provides four alternatives for former child soldiers: being sent back to their families, identifying a foster family, enrolling them in school, or receiving vocational training.
In 2014 SLA/MM issued a command prohibiting child recruitment within its ranks. JEM claimed to continue abiding by a similar command issued in 2012. In May, following a meeting with UN SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui, JEM, SLA/MM, and SLA/AW issued a joint statement in which they committed to continue to take all necessary steps to protect children. On September 30, JEM reissued a directive prohibiting the recruitment and use of children in its ranks, but lack of access made compliance difficult to verify.
In October 2014 former Janjaweed leader Sheikh Musa Hilal initiated a community-based strategic plan to end the use of child soldiers in interethnic and intraethnic fighting. Leaders from the Abbala, Beni Hussein, Fur, Tamma, Gimir, Awalad Janoub, and various other tribes in Kabkabiya, El Sereif, Saraf Umra, al-Waha, and Jebel Si in North Darfur endorsed the plan.
Eyewitness reports indicated both the government and rebel groups employed child soldiers in conflict. Armed groups reported they did not actively recruit child soldiers. They did not prevent children who volunteered from joining their movements, however. The armed groups stated the children were stationed primarily in training camps and were not used in combat.
During an interview with progovernment daily newspaper Sudan Vision, a defector from JEM-Gibril Ibrahim accused Ibrahim of kidnapping children from IDP and refugee camps in Darfur and Blue Nile States to be used as child soldiers in Jebel Marra and the Two Areas. According to the defector, some of the children were under 13 years of age. In July, Sudan Vision reported a JEM official admitted Jem-Dabajo faction members recruited child soldiers from North Darfur.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: Fighting, insecurity, bureaucratic obstacles, and government and rebel restrictions reduced the ability of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers to access conflict-affected areas. Armed persons attacked, killed, injured, and kidnapped peacekeepers and aid workers. Humanitarian organizations often were not able to deliver humanitarian assistance in conflict areas, particularly in Jebel Marra, South Darfur.
During the year the UN Panel of Experts reported the use of Antonov An-26 aircraft in the government’s offensive overflights in Darfur. Human rights groups alleged such aerial bombardments disproportionately affected civilians.
In his June report on children and armed conflict, the UN secretary-general reported 65 children were killed and 132 maimed due to government-rebel crossfire in Darfur. Additionally, 15 children were killed and 29 injured by explosive remnants of war.
The United Nations verified numerous cases of rape of and sexual violence against girls that occurred in 2014: 15 of these cases were attributed to the armed forces, 10 to the RSF, and 35 to unidentified armed men. A UN report stated limited progress occurred in holding perpetrators for crimes against children accountable. In 2014, 12 cases of abuse of minors were reported, of which only four resulted in prosecution and one led to a 20-year prison sentence for rape.
The United Nations verified one school in South Darfur was used for military purposes in 2014 and noted 10 other schools were severely damaged, destroyed, or looted during fighting between the government and armed forces.
According to UNAMID the government forbade numerous land movements and planned flights for UNAMID and humanitarian organizations to access sites in Darfur, mostly in North Darfur. Humanitarian access to critical areas remained very limited. Access limitations and fear of government retribution continued to inhibit reporting on human rights violations, especially sexual and gender-based abuses, and on humanitarian situations.
Between December 2014 and March, UNAMID encountered 63 restrictions on land movement, 59 of which were imposed by the government, three by SLA/AW, and one by the Liberation and Justice Movement. Between March and October, UNAMID encountered 37 restrictions on movement. During the period between March and June, the government refused clearance for 68 of 2,189 planned UNAMID flights.
On April 28-29, following an attack on peacekeepers in Kass, South Darfur, 49 of 949 flights were cancelled.
On April 26, a UNAMID peacekeeper who was injured on duty died in Mukjar, Central Darfur, when NISS forces, citing security concerns, refused to allow an emergency medical evacuation by air from Mukjar to Nyala,.
According to Human Rights Watch, in January the RSF trapped an estimated 130,000 unarmed civilians in some areas in Jebel Marra without access to humanitarian aid.
Humanitarian organizations and NGOs continued to face challenges in accessing populations in Darfur. The Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) continued to require NGOs to refrain from interviewing or selecting staff unless they used a five-person government selection panel with HAC officials present. This requirement significantly delayed the hiring of new staff in Darfur. The HAC also continued to impose additional requirements on humanitarian organizations on an ad hoc basis, often at the state level.
UN agencies experienced constraints regarding access, although the government granted some travel permits to Central, South, and West Darfur. UNAMID was sometimes denied access to provide security to UN and other humanitarian actors. In these cases the latter had to rely on government-provided security escorts. The latter, however, frequently declined to provide them escorts to areas affected by fighting and restricted movement of UN-sponsored fuel, food, and nonfood supplies to areas outside of major population centers.
During the year both UNAMID and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were forced to temporarily suspend humanitarian activities in South Darfur for security reasons.
Attacks on humanitarian and UNAMID convoys continued. Bandits obstructed humanitarian assistance, regularly attacked the compounds of humanitarian organizations, and seized humanitarian aid and other assets, including vehicles. Instability forced many international aid organizations to reduce their operations in Darfur.
There were several reports of government forces, and armed militias and individuals, raiding IDP camps.
Some groups claimed Darfur-based rebel groups, such as JEM-Gibril and the SLA/MM, committed attacks in other regions of the country, especially the Two Areas.
Largely unregulated artisanal gold-mining activities continued to expand in all of the Darfur states and to be a source of tension between communities. Claims to land rights continued to be mostly tribal in nature. Clashes sometimes resulted from conflicts over land rights, mineral ownership, and use of gold-mining areas, particularly in the Jebel Amr area in North Darfur. Observers believed those clashes resulted in significant numbers of deaths and displacement.
Officials acknowledged the illicit transport of arms across the country’s western border. Reports of cross-border transport of conflict minerals, in particular into Chad, Libya, and Egypt, could not be confirmed but were believed possible. Reports noted the possibility that proceeds from artisanal and small-scale mining in Darfur were being used by armed groups to finance their operations.
Heavy fighting between the SAF and the SPLM-N continued in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile (known as the Two Areas). Both the government and rebel fighters were accused of using excessive force and targeting civilians. The government continued its Decisive Summer campaign throughout the dry season, with a surge in aerial bombardments in May and June. Humanitarian actors and fleeing IDPs also alleged that government forces, primarily led by the RSF and PDF, conducted a systemic forced displacement campaign in Blue Nile beginning in March, burning villages and executing those who refused to leave.
In August, President Bashir announced a two-month cessation of hostilities and amnesty for members of the armed movements to participate in the national dialogue in Khartoum, which went into effect by presidential decree on September 22. Despite this announcement, the SPLM-N, humanitarian actors, and local residents reported continued aerial bombardments inside the Two Areas during late September, allegedly resulting in the death of one child. There were also unverified reports of SAF attacks on SPLM-N forces in Blue Nile on October 29.
The SRF responded to the government’s declaration with its own announcement of a unilateral six-month cessation of hostilities to take effect on October 21 and called on the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to hold talks between the armed movements and the government in an effort to reach agreement on modalities for monitoring the cessation of hostilities and allowing for humanitarian access. The SPLM-N admitted to ambushing a government convoy in Blue Nile in early November but claimed it was not a violation as they were only seeking to block resupply of forces that were attacking them.
The AUHIP convened talks on the cessation of hostilities for the Two Areas in mid-November, although the formal talks were adjourned after they became deadlocked over the issue of humanitarian assistance and sequencing of the broader political process. The SPLM-N and government delegations met for a second time in informal discussions in mid-December. As of late December, the government had renewed isolated aerial bombardments in Blue Nile, and there were also multiple incidents of SPLM-N attacks on government forces in both Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the four-year conflict has resulted in 1.74 million IDPs and severely affected people in the Two Areas and resulted in 281,100 refugees in neighboring states. During the year through October, 92,000 individuals were newly displaced in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Many of the IDPs faced chronic food shortages and inadequate medical care. Significant numbers of farmers were prevented from planting their fields due to the conflict, leading to near-famine conditions in parts of Southern Kordofan. The government and the SPLM-N continued to deny access to humanitarian actors and UN agencies into areas controlled by the SPLM-N; these areas accounted for approximately 800,000 of the IDPs and severely affected persons. The government also continued to restrict access for humanitarian actors and UN agencies in some government-held areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The SAF and the SPLM-N conducted indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians in the Two Areas.
Killings: SAF air raids resulted in civilian deaths and the destruction of fields and impeded the planting of crops throughout Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Women and children accounted for most of the victims.
In his August report, the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan reported that he had received information regarding the dropping of an estimated 374 Antonov, MiG, and Sukhoi bombs in 60 locations across South Kordofan between January and April. These aerial bombardments, as well as ground shellings, were allegedly responsible for killing 35 civilians and injuring 70. In its response to the independent expert’s report, the government claimed that it attacked in self-defense and alleged there were civilian casualties because the opposition used civilians as human shields.
There were numerous reported aerial bombardments similar to the following example: The humanitarian wing of the SPLM-N, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, alleged the SAF conducted 135 air raids between January and June, killing at least 75 persons and injuring 98.
Between May and June, humanitarian actors reported numerous skirmishes between government forces and the RSF outside of Kadugli and in Dalami and Thobo counties, Southern Kordofan, which resulted in at least five civilian casualties.
Between April and May, the government burned at least three Ingessana villages of Mankaza, Khor Mungra, and Mediam in Blue Nile, with as many as 50,000 persons displaced. Fleeing IDPs and refugees reported numerous unverified civilian executions during these forced displacements and village razings. According to human rights observers, these populations were targeted as “rebel supporters.”
Ground attacks by SAF forces and government-backed militias often followed aerial bombardments. Rebel forces also killed civilians during attacks. Attacks resulted in civilian displacement.
The SPLM-N is alleged to have killed 33 gold miners in attacks near Talodi, Southern Kordofan, on June 25 and at least 10 artisanal gold miners in attacks in Manjam al-Akhadaar, South Kordofan, on August 12. A spokesperson for the SPLM-N denied any involvement by the armed group, stating that their forces only attacked SAF and RSF troops.
The SPLM-N also conducted attacks on civilian areas in Southern Kordofan.
Shelling by the SPLM-N killed at least five civilians and injured a dozen others in Kadugli and Delling in April during the period preceding the national elections.
In the June report on children and armed conflict, the UN secretary-general reported that in 2014, at least 62 children between the ages of five and 17 had been killed or maimed in the Two Areas and Abyei, 28 of whom were reportedly killed in the shelling by Sudanese Armed forces of SPLM-N controlled-areas. An additional 42 children were believed to have been killed or maimed as a result of tribal clashes.
Abductions: International organizations were unable independently to verify reports of disappearances due to lack of access to the region. Humanitarian actors reported unverified cases of civilians, including women, being abducted or detained by government-aligned forces due to their suspected affiliation with the SPLM-N.
Local human rights actors reported one case of abduction and one case of illegal detention of civilians by government forces in Dilling County, Southern Kordofan, during July.
In May government forces allegedly abducted 48 civilians during forced displacements in Blue Nile.
On May 25, there were reports that military intelligence captured and imprisoned Mohamed al-Bur Ali from the Ingessana ethnic group in Damazin Maket, Blue Nile. Military intelligence accused him of communicating with the SPLM-N through internet application WhatsApp. As of year’s end, he remained in solitary confinement in SAF headquarters in Damazin.
In September 2014 military intelligence arrested five individuals accused of being SPLM-N supporters or affiliates in Allaggori village, Southern Kordofan: Eisa Abbas, Gibriel Abbas, Abdalla Khamis, Abboud Obeid, and Abboud al-Tijani. As of year’s end, their whereabouts remained unknown.
In June the UN secretary-general’s report on children and armed conflict reported that in August 2014 four South Sudanese refugee boys had been held captive for six months. Arab men had abducted the boys in West Kordofan and released them following negotiations with the police.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: The SAF and government-aligned forces reportedly burned and looted villages in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. There were reports of physical abuse and violent interrogations of SPLM-N-affiliated individuals in Kadugli prison and military installations.
Government forces killed and maimed civilians during repeated aerial or artillery bombardment. There were also numerous reports of the SAF using cluster bombs in the Two Areas.
Throughout the year the SAF also repeatedly bombed cultivated land, disrupting planting cycles, which, coupled with forced displacements and the denial of humanitarian assistance, resulted in near famine-like conditions. NGOs accused the government of using the denial of food as a weapon of war. During July and August, humanitarian actors reported the SAF targeted civilian areas with 53 bombs, including 11 cluster bombs, and 122 artillery shells.
Human rights groups continued to report that government forces and allied militias raped, detained, tortured, and arbitrarily killed civilians in government-controlled areas of Blue Nile.
In July human rights actors reported that a woman was raped by the government militia in Habila County, Southern Kordofan.
During forced displacements in Blue Nile in May and June, IDPs reported cases of rape and sexual assault to local humanitarian actors.
Child Soldiers: Due to problems of access, particularly in conflict zones, reports of child soldiers were limited and often difficult to verify.
In the June report, the UN secretary-general reported that in 2014 the United Nations verified the recruitment by armed groups of 60 boys between ages 14 and 17, of whom 55 were forcibly recruited by JEM from a refugee settlement in Unity State, South Sudan. There were unverified reports that JEM recruited an additional nine boys in 2014. According to the United Nations, new cases of children recruited as child soldiers could not be verified. Some sources reported the government PDF continued to recruit children. The government denied allegations it did so.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: The government continued to obstruct the work of humanitarian organizations, increasing the displacement of civilians and abuse of IDPs. Violence, insecurity, and the denial of visas and refusal of access to international organizations reduced the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide needed services.
Government forces frequently harassed local NGOs that received international assistance, despite a joint communique between the government and the United Nations that allowed for the NGOs’ operation. The government restricted or denied permission for humanitarian assessments, refused to approve technical agreements, changed procedures, copied NGO files, confiscated NGO property, questioned humanitarian workers at length and monitored their personal correspondence, delayed issuance of visas and travel permits, restricted travel, and publicly accused humanitarian workers of aiding rebel groups (see section 5).
The SPLM-N failed to work with OCHA and WHO officials to implement a vaccination campaign from October through year’s end.
There continued to be reports humanitarian aid workers and centers, including hospitals, were targeted in the Two Areas. In the June report on children and armed conflict, the UN secretary-general noted the United Nations had received credible reports in 2014 regarding the military use of three schools by armed forces in South Kordofan.
On January 20, the air force bombed the NGO Doctors without Borders in Frandala, Southern Kordofan, killing at least one person and injuring two. The NGO subsequently left the country.
SAF air raids also destroyed homes, schools, churches, mosques, and other civilian structures.
There were reports the government provided support to antigovernment rebels in South Sudan, especially following the December 2013 violence.
There were unconfirmed reports that conflict minerals, including gold, were illicitly traded across borders in the Two Areas.
On January 7, a landmine detonated, killing at least five civilians and injuring five others travelling in a truck in Jebel Gilda Mol in Kurmuk County, Blue Nile.
Abyei is a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan that, according to agreements between the two governments, is to be jointly administered until a referendum on the final status of the area is held. After conflict in 2011 between Sudanese and South Sudanese forces, the United Nations established the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA). The security situation in Abyei was tenuous throughout the year due to rising tensions between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities compounded by deteriorating economic conditions and the unresolved 2013 murder of Ngok Dinka paramount chief Kuol Deng Koul. The AU and the Abyei Area Joint Investigation and Inquiry Committee had still not released their reports following its investigation into the 2013 killings of Koul, an Ethiopian UNISFA peacekeeper, and 16 Misseriya tribesmen. The Abyei Area Joint Investigation and Inquiry Committee completed an investigation into the incident but had yet to release its conclusions.
Several humanitarian aid NGOs continued to provide mobile outreach services in Abyei from their bases in South Sudan.
During the year there were some incidents of violence between the two communities.
Killings: On February 28, UNISFA reported 100 armed Misseriya tribal militia attacked Marialachak village in Abyei (south sector), burned 24 houses, killed at least three Ngok Dinka, and abducted eight children. UNISFA apprehended some of the assailants, some of whom claimed to be from the militant group Tora Bora and one of whom self-identified as a SAF intelligence officer. The abducted children were returned to their families by Misseriya tribal leaders in a ceremony under UNISFA supervision.
On May 20, UNISFA reported unknown armed Misseriya militia killed two Ngok Dinka men in Dar, Abyei. According to Misseriya representatives, on November 12, armed members of the Ngok Dinka killed at least 13 Sudanese traders and burned the trucks they travelled in near Shagaga, Abyei. The traders were transporting goods to Mayom, south of Abyei. As of November 15, it was not clear what action, if any, local authorities took in response to the incident.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: UNISFA also reported occasional Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) incursions into southern Abyei, including an attempted robbery at a market in Agok on July 20 by SPLA soldiers based in Unity State. On September 13, SPLA deserters set up illegal roadblocks in the south of Abyei and attempted to extort taxes from passing traffic. The SAF also maintained an illegal armed presence in the form of the so-called oil police north of Abyei.