Russian and Chinese weapons blamed for fuelling Sudan war

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The Independent Online

The brutal ethnic war in Darfur is being fuelled by weapons supplied by companies from countries that are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, a report claimed yesterday. The Security Council is trying to find a way to end the violence.

The brutal ethnic war in Darfur is being fuelled by weapons supplied by companies from countries that are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, a report claimed yesterday. The Security Council is trying to find a way to end the violence.

The Chinese and Russian governments have been allowing the sale of military equipment to the Sudanese government, according to an Amnesty International report, which also repeated claims that a British firm had been involved in brokering an arms deal between Ukraine and Sudan. The Russians and Chinese from their permanent seats on the Security Council have constantly opposed moves by other members to impose sanctions or an arms embargo on Sudan.

Amnesty, which released the report yesterday, said the UN had to impose a mandatory arms embargo on Sudan if the conflict was to end. The European Union has had an arms embargo against Sudan since 1994, but that has not stopped other countries trading arms with Sudan, which has paid with oil revenues.

China has sold fighter jets and helicopters to Sudan since the 1990s, while Russia sent 12 MiG jet fighters to Sudan in July as the Security Council was meeting to discuss whether to impose sanctions on Sudan. China is one of the main investors in Sudan's oil industry.

Earlier this year a newspaper alleged a British company had acted as a broker between Sudan and a Ukrainian arms export company for the sale of 62 Antonov planes. The Foreign Office and Customs and Excise are investigating whether UK firms broke international law.

A UN database suggests that more than 180 tons of arms has been sent to Sudan by British citizens and British-registered companies in the past three years, including small arms and ammunition used by the Janjaweed, via private brokers. It says that France sent £242,000 worth of bombs, grenades and other ammunition to Sudan in 2001, although this fell to less than £13,250 in 2002.

Brian Wood, a researcher for Amnesty International, said: "Everyone knows that if you send arms to a country like Sudan, which has a very poor record on human rights, the weapons will be misused within three to four years."

The Security Council will meet in Nairobi this week to discuss the conflicts in south and west Sudan amid concerns that the Sudanese government is not willing to bring peace to the region. It has twice produced resolutions demanding that the government end the conflict in Darfur, but has stopped short of imposing sanctions or a full arms embargo. Last week, Sudanese police attacked refugees at the Al-Geer camp in south Darfur in front of UN officials, African Union (AU) monitors and journalists.

Elizabeth Hodgkin of Amnesty International said: "What happened in Al-Geer camp shows that Sudan doesn't care if the AU or the UN is there. They still beat people up, use tear gas and rubber bullets. The Security Council has to take action. At the moment, the resolution is being blocked by one Security Council member who is selling arms to Sudan and another which is selling arms and has a big oil stake."

In July, the Security Council said all states should "prevent the sale or supply" of arms and related material to non-governmental entities in Sudan, but Amnesty International says there is no guidance on how this resolution should be implemented or monitored. Civilians in Darfur say they have been bombed by government-owned Antonovs, and attacked by Arab militias carrying rifles and wearing uniforms.

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