Growing anxiety among European electorates has led the EU to pay millions to Sudan’s dictator Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes, to police migration from the Horn of Africa
In 2009 the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir on seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. In 2010 it issued a further warrant on three counts of genocide. He is the only sitting head of state charged with committing genocide against his own people. In a majority Arab country, the ethnically African groups, especially those around the Darfur area, have long been politically marginalised. But since 2003 Bashir has been trying to systematically eliminate them, not least through his proxies, the hated Janjaweed (literally “devils on horseback”) militia, notorious for their cruelty. To take one example out of many: in February 2004, the Janjaweed attacked a boarding school in Darfur, forcing 110 girls to strip at gunpoint before raping many of them and burning down their school. Little wonder tens of thousands have been fleeing for their lives.
And it gets worse. Last month, Amnesty International released a report with evidence that, earlier this year, Bashir’s air force had been dropping chemical weapons on some of the remoter villages. It is hard to get the soil samples that would fully evidence such a claim – foreigners, even UN-African Union peacekeepers – are not allowed in the region. But the horrific photographs of children with blistered skin and bleeding eyes look very much like the effects of some version of mustard gas. No, it’s not a competition, but as the world is rightly concerned with the plight of the people of Aleppo, there are others – in perhaps more out of the way places – who get far less of our attention.