News Release – Nuba Genocide



Contact: Steven Tabakin, 212-460-5235

 Horrifying Images Reveal Children Burned and Maimed by Indiscriminate Aerial Bombing and Artillery Fire

 On Wednesday, February 3rd 2015, Dr. Tom Catena, an American physician who since 2008 has been essentially the only trained medical doctor serving the people of the Nuba Mountains at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, Sudan, released horrifying photos he took of badly-maimed and horribly-burned people, mostly women and children, who are victims of indiscriminate bombings and artillery attacks by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) under the control of indicted war criminal Omar Al-Bashir.

Dr. Tom Catena’s photos show some of the victims who were able to reach the other of Mercy Hospital in recent weeks:

  • Jan 25th – artillery shelling. Photo shows a young woman whose left leg was blown off below the knee;
  • February 1st bombardment from Russian-made Antonov planes. Photo shows 10-year-old girl who lost her foot.
  • February 2nd – bombardment from Russian-made Antonov planes. Photo shows 7-year-old boy, horribly disfigured;
  • Feb 3rd – Artillery shelling – six children badly burned (ages 5,6, 13, 2, 7, 10). Three children killed (ages 18, 12, 9);
  • February 7, 2015 – 28-year-old civilian male, father of three, killed by Antonov Bombardment near Tess, Nuba Mountains.

The photos and descriptions were sent from Dr. Tom Catena by email to Sudan expert Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, who has spent the last 16 years documenting genocide in Sudan, focusing on the Nuba Mountains region in South Kordofan in particular. He published the images on his website at Dr. Reeves wrote in an email, “This should be major news… it has been when similar artillery/bombings have occurred in Bosnia, Syria… and number of places. Even Boko Haram gets much more news attention; and horrible as they are, they’ve done nothing the equivalent of what Tom sees, what’s occurring in Darfur… or Blue Nile.”

The photos were also sent by email to film producer Steven Tabakin, who published the photos and captions on Facebook The photos have gainied the attention of Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and Greta Van Sustern of Fox News who, along with warnings of their disturbing content, shared the images with their followers on Twitter — but there has been little attention to the ongoing genocide in print or broadcast media with the recent exceptions of Al Jazeera and Radio France Internationale.

The genocidal bombings and cold-blooded starvation in the Nuba Mountains have been largely ignored by the US media, while Sudan’s president Omar Al-bashir, who was indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity on March 4, 2009, has thus far evaded the warrant for his arrest. The Nuba Mountains, located in the South Kordofan state, has been in crisis since 2011, with constant bombardment forcing people to live in caves and making it impossible to cultivate fields. Most of the Nuba are subsistence farmers so there is a serious hunger crisis. Journalists, along with all foreign aid and NGOs have been banned from the area. The attacks have been escalating in recent weeks, with the deliberate targeting of a Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) unit on January 20, 2015, forcing the suspension of medical activities and leaving Dr. Tom Catena as the sole physician for over 1 million people.

Dr. Tom Catena was born and raised in Amsterdam, NY in a family of seven children. He attended Brown University (’86), studying mechanical engineering. He excelled both in the classroom and on the football field, winning honors as an Honorable Mention All-American and All-Ivy League nose guard while becoming a Rhodes Scholar candidate. Upon graduation, Catena decided to pursue a medical career, enrolling at the Duke University School of Medicine in on a U.S. Navy scholarship. He entered the United States Navy in 1992, becoming a Naval Flight Surgeon. After fulfilling his Navy obligation, he completed a residency in family medicine at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind. During his residency, he began his medical foray into the developing world with mission trips to Guyana and Honduras. In 1999, he began his service as a missionary doctor, becoming a volunteer physician with the Catholic Medical Mission Board at hospitals in Mutomo and Nairobi, Kenya.

In 2007, Catena became the medical director and sole physician at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains region of the Sudan, a country where civil war has been raging for years. He established the facility with Bishop Macram Gassis, and on opening day in 2008, he treated more than 200 patients. Since then, he has continued at a relentless pace, dealing with everything from malaria and leprosy to brain surgery. His unyielding responsibilities extend to training nurses and hospital administration.

In 2011, the civil war escalated and conditions at the hospital became more intense. In addition to those wounded by the fighting, many of them children, Catena and his staff faced a particularly severe malaria outbreak. He was given the choice to evacuate, but he refused, stating, “As the only doctor in the only hospital in the region, I could not leave in good conscience.”

Catena was named a “Catholic Hero” by Catholic Digest in 2010, and he has been quoted in numerous international publications, reporting on the ongoing civil war in the Sudan. Catena’s many accolades include the 2013 Brown Alumni Association Williams Rogers Award and being recognized as a 2013 Ivy Football Association Honoree. On December 10, 2014, he was awarded the National Football Foundation’s prestigious Gold Medal for Humanitarian Service. NFF Chairman Archie Manning remarked, “Tom Catena stands as an inspiration to us all, having created a powerful path for making a difference in one of the bleakest places on earth.” Interviews with Dr. Tom Catena can be facilitated by telephone or Skype.

Eric Reeves is Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has spent the past sixteen years working virtually full-time as a Sudan researcher and analyst, publishing extensively both in the US and internationally. He has testified several times before the Congress, has lectured widely in academic settings, and has served as a consultant to a number of human rights and humanitarian organizations operating in Sudan. Working independently, he has written on all aspects of Sudan’s recent history. He has recently published Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 — 2012 (available at no cost as an eBook). Dr. Reeves is available for interviews.

Ryan Boyette, another American who lives in the Nuba Mountains, founded Nuba Reports, which facilitates and publishes eye-witness video accounts of the attacks on the Nuba.

Other subjects include filmmaker Andrew Berend, whose documentary Madina’s Dream will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March. “An unflinching and poetic glimpse into a forgotten war, Madina’s Dream tells the story of rebels and refugees fighting to survive in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains.”

The documentary Beats of the Anatovs from Hajooj Kuka premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September, 2014 and won the Audience Award.

Project Daniel is a project from Not Impossible Labs that uses 3-D prinitng technology to provide prosthetic limbs to war victims. Elliot Kotek and Mick Ebeling were inspired by Dr. Tom Catena’s patient Daniel Omar, 16, who lost both arms in a bombing in the Nuba Mountains. The team collaborated with Dr. Tom Catena to set up a 3D printing lab at the Mother of Mercy Hospital and created prostethic arms for Daniel and other victims of bombardment. There is an independent documentary film in the works.

In January 2014, a large shipment of the life-saving therapeutic food supplements Plumpy Nut and Plumpy Sup reached Dr. Tom Catena at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains. These products, which are designed to treat severe malnutrition, were manufactured in Providence, RI by the non-profit company Edesia; then loaded onto a 20-foot container in Boston; sailed around Africa to Saudia Arabia and eventually to Mombassa, Kenya; then trucked to Lokichoggio, Kenya to be held through the rainy season; then loaded onto 3 cargo flights to Yida refugee camp in South Sudan; and finally taken by truck to the Nuba Mountains. This was made possible by a grant from generous US family foundation though Edesia to manufacture the products, a gift from the Whitton-Spector Foundation to cover ocean freight, funding from the Fund for Sudan for the flights – with support from the Diocese of El Obedeid in Nairobi, Tashtego Films in New York City and many other individuals and organizations.

Tashtego Films hosts a Vimeo channel with short documentary pieces and interviews with Dr. Tom Catena:

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TASHTEGO FILMS® is a New York-based film, television and new media production company dedicated to the the idea that great storytelling has the power to transform individuals and societies. Founded by Margaret Whitton, Steven Tabakin and Warren Spector, Tashtego Films collaborates with some of our finest writers, actors and filmmakers to create works that enlighten, inspire, provoke and entertain.

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