UN attacks Sudanese failures over crisis in Darfur

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The United Nations and Amnesty International accused the Sudan government yesterday of not taking seriously the conflict in western Darfur that has killed 10,000 people and displaced one million since last year, causing a humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations and Amnesty International accused the Sudan government yesterday of not taking seriously the conflict in western Darfur that has killed 10,000 people and displaced one million since last year, causing a humanitarian crisis.

Asma Jehangir, a UN rapporteur, said people displaced by attacks by government-backed militia were getting no help from the authorities.

The Sudanese government has denied arming the militias, saying they are not operating in areas where it has control, but Ms Jehangir accused the government of apathy. "What has disturbed me very much is that there is no accountability and in some areas the government officials are also in a state of complete denial," she said.

Rebels took up arms in February 2003 accusing the government of neglecting the area and arming the janjaweed, an Arab militia accused of looting and killing African farmers throughout Darfur.

Since then, the UN estimates the conflict has affected two million people and driven 158,000 refugees into neighbouring Chad, creating one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Amnesty International said the Sudanese authorities had done little to tackle the outlaws. "One reason the abuses have been so horrific and widespread in Darfur is that all members of the janjaweed militias who have killed, raped, looted and forcibly displaced people since April 2003 have benefited from complete impunity," the human rights organisation said in a report.

Last week the Sudan government and main rebel group signed agreements in Naivasha, Kenya, negotiating an end to the 21-year civil war that has plagued the nation. But the agreement did not address the conflict in Darfur.

Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for International Development, who visited three refugee camps in Darfur, said human rights abuses must be stopped. "Action must also now be taken to bring irregular forces and militias under control," he said. "Only then will a new era dawn for Sudan and will we never again see the scenes we are witnessing now in Darfur."

He added: "In the end, this is a crisis that must have a political, not a military, solution."

Mr Bennpromised an increase of £15m in British aid to Sudan, bringing the total sent to the country since September 2003 to £36.5m.

Comments