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UN troops essential but long term peace needs minority involvement

25 August 2006

Minority Rights Group International condemns the Sudanese Government for not allowing the deployment of UN peace forces in Darfur, and stresses that troops must urgently be allowed to enter the region. MRG also calls on the Sudanese Government to uphold the ceasefire and to include all minorities in the peace agreement. If this does not happen, long-term peace will fail.

“It is blatantly obvious that UN troops are urgently needed and we call on the Sudanese Government not to create unnecessary obstacles and revise their decision on peacekeeping troops’ deployment,” Zoe Gray, Conflict and Genocide Prevention Officer at MRG says.

“If the Sudanese government is serious about wanting peace it must show its commitment by implementing its part of the ceasefire,” she adds.

According to MRG, it is imperative that the ceasefire agreement is immediately and fully observed in order to ensure security and protect civilians, particularly displaced persons. For a long-term effective peace solution, MRG emphasizes that the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) must be more inclusive and consider the needs of all communities. At present two of the main ethnic groups, the Fur and Masalait tribes, are not represented in the DPA.

“The international community must consider immediate needs. But it must also realize that peace can never be achieved in Sudan through minority exclusion,” warns Gray.

The African Union brokered DPA was signed in May 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria, between the government of Sudan and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement and Army (SLM/A) led by Minni Minnawi. The other SLM/A faction, led by Abdul Wahid M. A. Al-Nur and the Justice and Equality Movement, has so far refused to be part of the agreement, on the grounds that its concerns have not been satisfactorily met.

The involvement of only one rebel group in the peace agreement has resulted in the polarization of the inter-tribal relationships in Darfur. Members of the Fur and Masalait tribes who are represented by the excluded rebel factions form a majority of the victims of the armed conflict and live in misery in IDP camps in Darfur.

“All communities suffered immensely in the Darfur conflict. If only some are represented in the peace agreement then how can the agreement be seen as substantive?” Gray asks.

As violence escalates in Darfur, MRG also calls on the Sudanese government to play its part by disarming the Janjaweed militants and better protecting civilians, especially women and children.

In the past month violence in Sudan has risen and aid workers and peacekeepers have also come under attack. Civilians, specially those in displaced camps have faced violent attacks, including the rape of women. Neither the Sudanese Government nor the African Union peacekeepers have been able to effectively maintain security.

MRG is also calling for support for the global ‘Day for Darfur’, a joint NGO initiative to take place on September 17. People around the world will take part in demonstrations and talks to show worldwide support for the Darfuri people and to put pressure on Governments to ensure civilian protection.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].

Notes to editors

  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.