1.Continuing violence reported in south Darfur 2. NGOs call on the UN to take strong action on Sudan
Continuing violence reported in south Darfur
Sudanese security forces on Tuesday entered the Al Geir camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the South Darfur state of western Sudan for the second time in a week, relief sources and human rights organisations said.
Amnesty International, in a statement, called for an immediate halt to attacks on IDP camps in Darfur. "The latest assault on residents at the Al Geir camp near Nyala, is the fourth time over the past 10 days that IDP camps have been attacked," it said.
According to Amnesty, police fired tear gas during the attack, assaulted residents and bulldozed shelters in the camp, ignoring the protests of representatives of the UN, the African Union and international aid agencies who were present during the attack.
"Journalists also came under fire and the deputy chief of the camp was beaten up and arrested," Amnesty noted. "The attacks show how urgent it is for the international community to take firm measures at next week's UN Security Council meeting to ensure the security of civilians in Darfur and the protection of their right."
The Council is to meet in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on 18 and 19 November and will discuss the situation in Sudan.
George Somerwill, deputy spokesperson of the UN Advance Mission in Sudan, told IRIN on Wednesday: "After shots had been fired in the air, international aid workers left the scene for their own safety." In an earlier attack, at least one woman was raped on the night of 6 and 7 November, the UN quoted IDPs as reporting. The UN, in a Sudan situation report issued on Wednesday, said a team from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Children's Fund had visited the area and met local officials.
The UN report said the armed men had, during the latest attack, threatened to relocate the IDPs to the newly established Al Sureif camp, some 4 km away.
The latest attack happened a day after the Sudanese government and rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed an agreement aimed at ending the crisis.
After two weeks of talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the government dropped its opposition to the no-fly zone and signed agreements with rebels covering security and access for aid to Darfur.
Earlier, in a pre-dawn operation on 2 November, Sudanese army and police reportedly moved a large number of IDPs from the same camp.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the incident, calling it a violation of both international law and the agreements between the Sudanese government and the UN.
"I strongly urge the government to halt immediately all such relocation operations and to facilitate the return of the affected persons from the inappropriate sites to which they have been taken," Annan said in a statement.
A Verification and Monitoring Team of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) estimated that some 2,000 IDPs were forced to board lorries and were moved to Al Sureif camp, according to an IOM press release issued on 9 November.
In Washington, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters on Wednesday that "a political solution between the rebels and the government" of Sudan was needed.
Commenting on reports of forced relocations of IDPs from camps in Darfur, Powell said: "We're concerned about them. We saw a little bit of progress yesterday when an agreement was reached between the government and the rebels having to do with the flying of military aircraft, and opening up access of humanitarian supplies again. However, [we are] disappointed when
we see that they are moving camps again."
"I spoke to [Sudanese] Vice President [Ali Uthman] Taha over the weekend and specifically said that this kind of behaviour was unacceptable, we couldn't understand it, and it was not helping us reach a solution," he added. "We need a political solution between the rebels and the government
of Sudan and then we need to restore security throughout Darfur."
The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias allegedly allied to the government against the SLM/A and JEM, who are fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region by the state. The conflict has displaced an estimated 1.45 million people and sent another 200,000 fleeing across the border into Chad.
[ENDS] (Source: IRIN)
NGOs call on the UN to take strong action on Sudan
Six international humanitarian aid agencies working in Sudan today urged the UN Security Council to agree on a strong resolution setting out concrete measures to be taken against the Government of Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement if they continue to renege on their
commitments to resolve the crisis in Darfur.
The Security Council is preparing to specifically address the issue of Sudan in an historic session in Nairobi later this week. Meanwhile, according to Care International, Christian Aid, International Rescue Committee, Oxfam International, Save the Children UK and Tearfund, violence and insecurity has escalated in the troubled region of Darfur. The agencies have been working in Sudan more than 20 years.
"The signing of the Humanitarian and Security Protocols by the warring parties at the Abuja talks is a very welcome first step; however, what the people of Darfur urgently need is an immediate improvement in security on the ground. Words are meaningless without action to stop the daily killings," said Cynthia Gaigals, a spokesperson for the agencies.
Despite two previous Security Council Resolutions on Darfur, the agencies report that civilians continue to suffer attacks and abuse, causing them to flee to over-crowded and unsanitary camps. The Sudanese government's efforts to force people to return home or relocate have resulted in increased harassment and violent coercion of displaced people. Humanitarian access is deteriorating as insecurity and the actions of the warring parties are stopping agencies reaching many populations urgently in need of assistance.
"Previous UN Resolutions on Darfur have amounted to little more than empty threats, with minimal impact on the levels of violence. The Security Council must now outline specific and time-bound compliance measures and agree to implement them if there is no clear and sustained progress. Idle threats from the Security Council have not, and will not help the people of Darfur," said Gaigals.
The Security Council will also discuss the IGAD peace talks aimed at ending the 21-year conflict between North and South Sudan. "While the Darfur crisis has deservedly captured the attention of the international community, this should not be at the expense of support to the national peace talks which offer benefits to all Sudan, including Darfur and the East."
The agencies believe there are common solutions to the conflicts in Darfur and North-South. These include the creation of social justice in Sudan, by ending discrimination in all social, economic and political life.
"The IGAD peace process offers the best starting point for a sustainable peace for people in all areas of Sudan. We urge the UN to use its considerable influence to encourage a swift conclusion of the North-South peace process and promote linkages between this process and the peace talks on Darfur."
For more information contact:
Cynthia Gaigals, (spokesperson for the group of agencies) on: + 254 20 271 9721
CARE: Lynn Heinisch, Press Officer, +27 83 626 3113, email@example.com or Gordy Molitor +254 2719721
Christian Aid: Stephanie Brigden, Senior Policy Officer or Judith Melby, International Editor, Christian Aid +44 (0)20 7523 4444
Save the Children UK: laura +44 207 065 0782
IRC: Anne Richard, Vice President Advocacy and Government Relations, telephone: +1 202 822 0166 extension 10;
Patricia Swahn, Regional Director, Horn and East Africa, telephone: + 1 917 3308 054;
Melissa Winkler, Director of Communications, telephone: + 1 212 551 0972
Tearfund: Ian Sinkinson +254 2 2714179
Oxfam: Gemma Swart +254 733 632 810