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The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory

Yannick Lemieux
Sudan, October 15th, 2005

Vue de la position du Soudan sur une mappemonde; le Soudan est situé dans l'ouest de l'Afrique Carte du Soudan avec les principales villes représentées; Kharthoum est au centre

I have been on a United Nations peacekeeping mission for 5 months in Khartoum, capital of the Sudan. There was a site that I did not visit yet and I absolutly wanted to see it before I left the country: the pharmaceutical factory of Al-Shifa. I headed with Assad, my local guide, towards this factory, more precisely at grid: 15°38′N 32°32′E. This is on the right bank of the Blue Nile, in a area called appropriatly North Kharthoum. The factory was only 20 minutes away from the UN headquarters in a part of town that strangely looks like the east-Montreal and its petrol refinery.


We all remember that this factory was hit on august 1998 by 3 Tomahawk missiles, fired from a navy vessel in the indian ocean, because the CIA thought this was the site of a WMD factory. This attack, combined with the attack of some Taliban training camps in Afghanistan was an answer to the bombings of the US embassies in east-Africa.


What is most striking when arriving on the site, is the extent of the destruction and the precision of the raid. Even if the factory was complety razed by the strike, the buildings around the site were not touched and were left more of less intact. A good example of a "chirurgical strike", too bad the the Clinton government had the wrong target!


The industrial complex was composed of around four buildings, according to what I saw. Three were completely destroyed and the fourth was heavily damaged. The complex was squatted by some war refugees from south-Sudan.


The visit lasted around 45 minutes. The site is not very large and the suffocating heat of the mid-day was particular unpleasant that day.


What have I learned by this visit? First, it is quite eerie to see a site like that one. The precision of the strike was phenomenal. It was also interesting to see what the sudanese government did with the site. In one word: nothing! Everything was as it was in 1998, nothing was moved. The raid could have happen last month instead of 7 years ago. One could have expected that they would either destroy the site or make some kind or tourist/propaganda attraction or even a memorial of some sort. Quite the opposite, absolutly nothing was done. But considering the state of most things in Sudan, it is quite logical!


The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory

Creation : February 24th, 2006
N 45° 33′ W 73° 36′

The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory

Last update : February 24th, 2006,
N 45° 33′ W 73° 36′