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Sudan: Urgent action needed to counter brutality

Sudan: top UN envoy calls for urgent action to counter brutality in Darfur

Saying that killings, rapes and other abuse of human rights in Darfur continue to threaten the peace in Sudan as a whole, the United Nation’s top envoy to that country today called for a swift peace agreement and a peacekeeping force large enough to cover the region and strong enough to deter any attack.

Maintaining that no progress has been made since his last visit to UN Headquarters, Special Representative Jan Pronk told the Security Council: “I feel no joy in adding the towns of Sharia and Graida to Aro Sharow, Tama, Abu Sorouj, Tawila, Labado, Hamada and Khora Abache, which all stand witness to cruel atrocities, terror, killings and rapes.”

The Government had not disarmed the militias, he said. On the contrary, African Union commanders on the ground openly spoke about continued support to militia by forces allied to the Government, in a civil conflict that also involves rebel groups and has killed some 180,000 people, displacing over 2 million others.

“The ceasefire does not function; the Joint Committee does not meet. The sanctions foreseen with the establishment of the Security Council Panel of Experts exist only in theory,” he said, adding that demands laid down in Council resolutions have been brushed aside.

He called for a United Nations strategy that focuses on two objectives: peace and protection. “Peace between the warring parties and protection of unarmed civilians, particularly against movements that do not bother sitting at the table to talk peace.”

To that end, beside a robust peacekeeping force which is still being negotiated with possible contributing countries, he called for the swift conclusion of an agreement in Abuja on power sharing followed by an all-inclusive dialogue on Darfur between all stakeholders, including civil society.

He also called for a new ceasefire agreement that could hold, saying a so-called humanitarian ceasefire, guaranteeing humanitarian assistance and relief workers’ access to victims, was not sufficient. A comprehensive ceasefire should guarantee that the victims themselves are protected and that no new victims are made, he said.

“We must mend our own shortcomings and provide a future UN operation in Darfur with a robust mandate and a strong force not just to preserve lives but to ensure that all Darfurians can choose to live wherever they want to and their children can look forward to a future that their parents were denied,” he stated.

Although he said the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ending the long-running civil war in south Sudan was on track, he cautioned that the security there was still fragile and troops from UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) should not be redeployed to other areas.

“There were security incidents, but we have been able to contain all of them and to avoid escalation,” he told reporters after the Council meeting, in which he had pointed to tensions resulting from a lagging implementation of the peace agreement and new threats such as the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance army.

“My warning to the Security Council was, ‘Please do not cannibalize our existing force in the South, 10,000, by taking away troops on the basis of your perception that everything is okay,’ because that is not the case,” he said.

In order to consolidate the peace in the south, he called for a substantial increase in resources devoted to Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) and other post-conflict activities.

“The reconstruction and development deficit in the south is the greatest challenge to peace. If not addressed, people will ask what difference peace has made for them,” he said, adding: “After the war, there are plenty of weapons for those who want to grab the scant resources to survive.”

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