South Kordofan State, a heavily contested region in the south of Sudan, was the scene of brutal clashes between rebel groups and the Sudanese army throughout the two lengthy Sudanese civil wars. Still a point of ongoing fighting and contentions of power, the Nuba mountains have been the victims of numerous, bombing campaigns targeting the largely Christian and animist ethnic Nuba peoples. May 1-2, the Sudanese army dispatched two fighter pilots which dropped active ordinance all around the sole surviving hospital in all of South Kordofan, Mother of Mercy, which is sponsored by the Catholic Church. A video released by Nuba Reports, a citizen journalist group founded by a U.S. human rights activist that has documented mass atrocities committed against innocents by the al-Bashir regime, released a video Monday, May 5 that captured the attack.
05/14/2014 Sudan (National Geographic) – Tom Catena, a Catholic missionary doctor from the United States, is the only trained surgeon in the rebel-held part of the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. At the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the village of Gidel, he and his staff treat bullet and shrapnel wounds, malaria, leprosy, thyroid disease, burns, and cancer. Catena has performed dozens of amputations, many of them on children.
For years, the hospital was spared the bombs and rockets of Sudanese government aircraft. Until now.
On May 1 and 2, Sukhoi and Antonov warplanes pounded the area directly around the hospital with 11 bombs and rockets. The explosions knocked doors off their hinges and damaged windows and screens in the hospital, Catena says, but didn’t kill anyone. Some civilians in nearby areas were wounded by shrapnel. Many sick patients ran home or hid in the surrounding hills.
The conflict in the Nuba Mountains tends to be overshadowed by the civil war in South Sudan and the atrocities in Darfur. The Nuba rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North are fighting for greater autonomy from the government in Khartoum. The area they rule has no electricity grid, no running water, and very few latrines. Roads are rutted dirt tracks that become largely impassable in the rainy season, which is about to begin.
Mother of Mercy Hospital runs on solar power, and gets food and medical supplies by road from an airstrip in South Sudan. In recent weeks, government forces have launched a fresh offensive. Many tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced.