1980-1989 | Blair's crimes | Sudan

Tony Blair backs attack on life-saving Sudanese pharmaceutical company

The bombed ruins of the factory 10 years later.
Bertramz – CC BY-SA 3.0 – via Wikimedia.

21 August 1998

On 21 August 1998, Prime Minister Tony Blair gave his full backing to a U.S. cruise missile attack on the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in the suburbs of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, declaring  ‘I strongly support this American action against international terrorists.’ The Guardian reported that Blair’s unequivocal support was given ‘against the advice of appalled British diplomats.’1

The site was visited soon afterwards by several international journalists and no evidence could be found that any chemicals weapons had been manufactured there, as Washington had alleged. Nor could the many technicians and others familiar with the site recall anything sinister about the building.  Werner Daum, the German ambassador to Sudan, immediately condemned the attack, declaring that there was nothing secret about the factory and that  ‘one can’t, even if one wants to, describe the Shifa firm as a chemical factory.’2 The inevitable consequence of the strike was that hundreds, possibly thousands of Sudanese died due to a lack of essential medicines it had been producing. The facility had been one of only three pharmaceutical factories in the country and the only one producing TB medication for over 100,000 patients.3

Satellite photograph of the Al Shifa factory prior to the bombing –
US Department of Defense – via Wikimedia.

FOOTNOTES

  1. ‘World Reacts to US strikes,’ CBS News, 21 August 1998 accessed online at url https://www.cbsnews.com/news/world-reacts-to-us-strikes/ and James Astill, ‘Strike one,’ The Guardian, 2 October 2001, accessed online at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/02/afghanistan.terrorism3
  2. “The Al-Shifa Bombing, ‘The European Sudanese Public Affairs Council,’ September 1998 accessed online at http://www.espac.org/al_shifa_pages/al-shifa_3.asp
  3. James Astill, ‘Strike one,’ The Guardian, 2 October 2001, accessed online at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/02/afghanistan.terrorism3

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