The Sudanese Air-Force has more than tripled the number of bombs dropped on civilian areas in recent months. This brings the number of bombs dropped to 3000 since Nuba Reports started tracking incidents in 2012.
For the past week, the latest Nuba Reports film “Sudan Fighter Jet Strikes Child.” has provoked intense discussion in our organization about the nature of graphic images and their relation to the truth. We went back and forth several times with the footage deciding whether or not to publish it. After some serious thought about the mission of Nuba Reports and its role in the broader landscape of war journalism, we decided to run it.
Read our essay on War is Boring to learn more about this decision.
On January 7, Albanin Butrus died from shrapnel that ripped through his body after a fighter jet launched seven rockets on his village Abu Layla in South Kordofan. He was seven years old.
Our video documents some of the last moments of his young life. He struggles to breathe and shifts, keeping his body weight off the foot that is shorn nearly in half. He tries to find a comfortable position that might relieve some of his agony on the dusty ground.
Albanin was one of several children who have been killed recently in a new barrage of bombings by the Sudan Air-Force fighter jets and Antanov bombers.
Nuba Reports journalist Abdu Ibrahim was nearby when the bomb hit Albanin. A group of people tried to help the boy – applying palm leaves as tourniquets to stem the bleeding while Albanin lay limp and labored to breathe. He was driven by motorbike to a clinic where he died shortly after.
Two other people were injured in the fatal bombing: 41-year-old Yuhanus Tulushi Andalo, and 14-year-old Mitius Ibrahim Aldukhun.
Between December of 2014 and February of 2015, Nuba Reports estimates at least 970 bombs have been dropped on civilian targets*, a drastic increase from the 230 that were dropped over the same period last year. Of these 970 bombs, more than 500 of them were dropped in January alone.
This massive surge is a part of President Omar Bashir’s “Decisive Summer II” campaign. Launched with much pomp and circumstance this fall, it’s aim is to crush the rebel forces before the national election in April. This push, Bashir has said in speeches would force a conclusive end to conflicts plaguing the country. In South Kordofan there was a huge military push in January that saw an increase in shellings and bombings for civilians as well. After many bloody battles, the government forces were pushed back, but the bombings only increased.
Next to every family home, church, tea stand and mosque is a foxhole, it’s a place to take protection from the shrapnel bombs which throw metal hundreds of meters from the site of impact. Since the new year, many families in the Nuba Mountains have taken to putting their children to bed in these foxholes. But even that is not always enough.
On February 3, a bomb hit a foxhole in Um Dorian County where nine children were sleeping. A sixteen year-old girl was killed immediately. The explosion lit a nearby house on fire which fell on the group of children. Two were killed . The others, disoriented and severely burned were pulled out of the fire by their parents. They are now being treated at the only hospital in the region. The same hospital that was bombed in June.
Two days before that, five children, ranging from ages two through fifteen were wounded by an Antonov bombing in Regife. That same day in another village, a ten-year-old girl lost her leg to an Antonov strike.
Elections are less than two months away, and there are four more months in this year’s dry season. The children of the Nuba Mountains have months of bombings yet to come.
* Because of the sheer numbers of bombings, Nuba Reports has been unable to verify the exact location of each bomb, but is still in the process of doing so.