London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Sudan’s armed opposition have called on the international community to establish a no-fly zone over South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur to protect civilians. This comes after the Sudanese air force allegedly bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in South Kordofan earlier this week, raising fears of civilians being caught in the cross-fire of the ongoing conflict between the Khartoum government and armed rebels.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) spokesman Arnuad Lodi said that the opposition group had issued a number of calls to international organizations for a no-fly zone to be imposed over the disputed territories. He said: “The international community must put aside its negativity and take serious and practical steps to establish a no-fly zone and stop the targeting of civilians, civil organizations and places of worship.”
He said that the international community was allowing the Khartoum government to continue its genocidal policies by refusing to step in, adding that what was happening in South Kordofan and Blue Nile represented a continuation of what the government began in Darfur.
Doctors Without Borders confirmed that its facility in Farandalla, South Kordofan, was bombed on Tuesday, wounding one staff member. Sudan’s military has denied the incident, the second of its kind in recent weeks.
“As bombs struck the village of Farandalla on June 16, two hit the Doctors Without Borders hospital there. Five people were wounded in the village and one Doctors Without Borders staff member was injured at the hospital,” the international aid group said in a statement.
“We are shocked that a medical facility can be bombed, especially since it was clearly identified with a flag and a cross on the roof,” the statement added.
Lodi condemned the Sudanese government for the attack, saying: “The Al-Bashir regime wants to vacate these areas of citizens, changing the demographics on the ground by forcing the original residents to flee. This is something that we have also seen in Darfur.”
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), another Sudanese militia fighting against the central government, has issued repeated calls for the establishment of a no-fly zone. JEM spokesman Jibril Adam Bilal told Asharq Al-Awsat that a no-fly zone was now a “priority,” adding that the international community’s policy towards the conflict in the region has completely “failed.”
“In addition to aerial bombardment, the regime is using rapid response forces which are committing crimes without any accountability,” he said.
“The international community now has the opportunity to correct the mistake of its policy of silence by establishing a no-fly zone over the conflict areas and putting a stop to the war crimes being committed there,” he added.