JUBA, South Sudan, July 27 (UPI) — International monitors are needed in Sudan’s state of South Kordofan to investigate allegations of human rights abuses there, Human Rights Watch said.
Satellite imagery reportedly depicts what are believed to be mass graves related to ethnic violence in South Kordofan state along the border between the two Sudans. Officials in the Sudanese government denied civilians were targeted in any attacks.
U.N. officials had said there was evidence that at least 150 bodies were discovered in the region. The bodies bore the characteristic skin color of Nuban descent, suggesting the conflict was ethnically motivated.
Human Rights Watch said the U.N. Security Council should take the necessary steps to ensure international monitors get access to the area to verify claims on the ground.
“Tens of thousands of civilians in South Kordofan are in grave danger and no one is on the ground to report on what is happening, much less do anything about it,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The advocacy group said it had images that showed what appeared to be the bodies of 16 people, including three children, which were blown apart by explosives.
“An international presence in South Kordofan is urgently needed to prevent further atrocities,” added Bekele.
South Kordofan is along the border of South Sudan, which gained formal independence July 9. Independence was gained through a 2005 peace agreement, though border issues continue to threaten that initiative.