Human Rights Violations in Darfur Deserves Attention

4 Sep

The situation in Darfur deserves immediate attention. That is why the UN has approved a 26,000 strong keeping force to expand the 7,000 African Union (AU) troops.1 The UN Secretary General, Mr Ban, will also be visiting Darfur, Chad and Libya to “promote a political solution to the conflict in Darfur and test the Sudanese government’s commitment to speedy deployment of a 26,000-strong force in the region.” according to Associated Press.2

According to Amnesty International, the Sudanese government has continued to breach the UN arms embargo and peace agreements by using weapons supplied by the Russia and China to attack innocent civilians3.
Reports from UN and other human rights organisations indicate that serious human rights violations are still occurring. They include include bombing villages and water points; allowing the Janjaweed militia to enter villages and slaughter men, rape the women and carry out looting.

Oxfam America, in its updated July 2007 report on Darfur4, says that as many as “2.5 million people have fled their homes and are living in vast, crowded camps both in Darfur and across the border in Chad. More than 4.5 million people are now affected by the conflict and depend on humanitarian assistance. Thousands more flee their homes each month.”

The UN has also highlighted how the Sudanese government and affiliated armed groups systematically carried out sexual and gender based violence on women during a large attack in South Darfur in late 20065 and urges amongst a list of recommendations, “the government and rebel factions to cease all attacks against civilians, especially women and children.” Amnesty International also reports on how such violence targeted towards women have spilled unto the region in Chad, traced to the Janjawid.6 The number of deaths caused by the conflict, while difficult to estimate, according to the UN, stands at 400,000 as of September, last year.7

Refugee camps are by no means a safe respite. As many as 1.2 million refugees are feared to possess arms8 which means possible clashes and more bloodshed. In addition, aids organisations working in Darfur face constant threats from armed groups attacks.

Within the first six months of 2006, “30 NGO and UN compounds were directly attacked by armed groups. More than 400 humanitarian workers have been forced to relocate 31 times from different locations throughout the three Darfur states… … Assets have been looted and staff threatened and physically harassed.”9

Foreign diplomats also face being expelled. Paul Barker of the U.S.-based CARE aid organization was told to leave for “doing something related to intelligence or state security”.10 Canada’s acting charge d’affaires in Khartoum, Nuala Lawlor and the envoy of the European Commission, Kent Degerfelt of Sweden, was also expelled. The latter was allowed to stay on for another three weeks to finish his term, after an apology was issued.11 This is not dissimilar to the threats by the dictatorial Zimbawean Mugabe regime which issued similar threats to foreign diplomats for “meddling in internal affairs.”12

As the Sudan government battles with the international community for its human rights violations in Darfur, it faces the internal problem of floods, which has killed at least 89 people according to its civil defence agency as at 22nd August.13 The flood has also destroyed at least 300,000 homes and caused water borne diseases such as malaria, cholera, and dengue fever.

While it is a good sign that Mr Ban will personally be going to Sudan to “promote a political situation”, the UN has to show some teeth as well. It has to step in and warn Russia and China against supplying arms to the Sudanese government while ensuring and getting the assurance from the Sudanese government that aid organizations be allowed to work unimpeded on the grounds, and without any fear of attack or harm. The Darfur crisis, which erupted as early as 2003 has seen enough death and casualties as it is.

Footnote:
1. A Sudan Darfur”s Conflict, BBC, Wednesday, 1 August 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3496731.stm
2. UN Chief to Visit Darfur, Chad and Libya, Associated Press, Wednesday 29 August 2007, Edith M. Lederer, http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6882091,00.html
3. New photos expose Sudan arms violations, Amnesty International, extracted on Wednesday 29 August 2007, http://web.amnesty.org/pages/sdn-240807-news-eng
4. The Current Situation in Darfur: July 2007, Oxfam America, extracted on 30 August 2007,http://www.oxfamamerica.org/whatwedo/emergencies/sudan/current_situation
5. Sudan : Women And Children Must Be Protected From Sexual and Gender-based Violence, Says High Commisioner for Human Rights, UN, 21 August 2007, http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/02EED4D378F34A0CC125733E003112B8?opendocument
6. No Protection from rape and violence for displaced women and girls in eastern Chad, Amnesty International,
27 July 2007, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGAFR200082007
7. Annan welcomes extension of African Union mission in Darfur, UN Newswire, 21 September 2006, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=19948&Cr=sudan&Cr1=
8. UN fears armed refugees joining Darfur violence, ABC, 30 August 2007, http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/30/2019074.htm?section=justin
9. UN Agencies Warn Of Threat To Humanitarian Work In Darfur, Medical News Today, 21 Jan 2007, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/60998.php
10.Sudan expels head of CARE for country, aid organization says, Associated Press, Monday, 27 August 2007, http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/27/africa/ME-GEN-Sudan-CARE-Expelled.php
11.Sudan to Let ‘Expelled’ EU Diplomat Stay, Associated Press, Saturday, 25 August 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/25/AR2007082501515.html
12. Zimbabwe threatens diplomats with expulsion, Independent, Basildon Peta in Johannesburg, 20 March 2007, http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article2374345.ece
13. Thousands suffer in Sudan floods, Al Jazeera, Mohammed Adow, Saturday, 25 August 2007

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: