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Darfur: No extension without verification states rights group

22 August 2004

New reports from Darfur indicate that attacks are continuing to take place against black African communities in the region despite assurances by the Sudanese government that urgent measures would be taken to disarm and disband the Arab ‘Janjaweed’ militia. Any extension of the current 30 day period allowed to the Government of Sudan to act before further UN action is considered, will prove too long for hundreds more innocent civilians who will die. Effective sanctions must be tabled for early consideration, stated Minority Rights Group International (MRG).

MRG today urged the international community not to extend the current 30 day period allowed to the Sudanese Government under Security Council Resolution 1556, without clear and verifiable evidence that significant progress has been made to stop attacks and ensure the security and humanitarian situation in the region. An extension of the time limit on the pretext of practical considerations and logistical difficulties in the delivery of aid and the termination of Janjaweed operations should not be approved without independently verified evidence of concerted efforts and progress. MRG further calls for urgent investigation into effective sanctions within the current 30 day period, including the possible use of safe havens, enforceable from the air, and no-fly zones that will allow only those flights approved for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Such well conceived, implemented, and closely monitored measures could protect the vulnerable from attack from the air as well as attack from the ground, stated MRG.

Claims by the Sudanese government that 30 days is too short a time to bring the militias under control are in clear contradiction to their earlier claims that the situation was stable and attacks were greatly exaggerated by media and human rights and humanitarian organizations, stated the rights group. MRG is concerned that possible appeals by the government of Sudan for a further 30 day period may meet with approval by the UN Security Council, which is itself restricted by unwillingness to act on the part of some member states. The international community must act to enforce the July resolution on Darfur if significant progress is not forthcoming within the original period. MRG strongly supports African Union initiatives to monitor the situation on the ground in Darfur. However it remains deeply concerned that the Government of Sudan appears unwilling to allow significant increases in the deployment of peace-keepers despite its own evident inability to perform such functions.

Director of MRG, Mark Lattimer stated: ‘Another 30 days for Sudan will be another 30 days of killing. There should be no extension without independent verification of progress.’

On 11 August the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated: ‘Fresh violence today included helicopter gunship bombings by the Sudanese government and Janjaweed attacks in South Darfur. The violence has already led to more displacement. Janjaweed attacks on internally displaced persons in and around IDP settlements continue to be reported in all three Darfur states’. Highly respected NGO and media sources have pointed to imprisonment and harassment of those who have talked to foreigners about the situation, while new reports have suggested that the government have begun to incorporate former militia members into government forces sent to ‘police’ the region. ‘This does not indicate a region in which a clear and structured plan to establish peace and security is being implemented’, continued Mark Lattimer.

Notes for editors

For more information, contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].