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Sudan: Security Council Must Get Consent, UN Force

Sudan: Security Council Must Secure Consent for U.N. Force

Cross-Border Attacks in Chad Underline Need for Action

(New York) – The U.N. Security Council must promptly secure Sudan’s consent for a U.N. force in Darfur with a mandate to ensure the protection of civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. A Security Council delegation is scheduled to arrive in Khartoum on June 5 and visit displaced persons camps in Darfur, before continuing to Chad.

Sudanese government-backed “Janjaweed” militias and armed opposition groups in Darfur continue to put civilians at grave risk. Militia forces based in Darfur are also increasingly committing atrocities against Chadian civilians across the border in Chad, in some instances with the participation of Chadian recruits, Human Rights Watch said.

“The need for a strong international force in Darfur to deter attacks on civilians and secure the Chad-Sudan border is greater than ever,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director for Human Rights Watch. “A robust force to protect civilians could help end three years of war crimes in Darfur, but only if it’s given the means to do so. The Security Council must mandate a U.N. force to use ‘all necessary means’ to protect civilians.”

A mission in Darfur under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, with the authorization to use “all necessary means”, would enable a U.N. force to use a range of measures, including aggressive preventive actions, to react to, or to deter attacks on civilians, including humanitarian aid workers and convoys.

A larger, more mobile and robust international force in Darfur is essential to re-establishing security in rural areas on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border, and to assisting the return of displaced persons, Human Rights Watch said.

The Security Council delegation is scheduled to visit camps for those displaced by the war, as well as troops in the 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur. Plans are under way to convert the under-resourced AU force to a larger, better-equipped U.N. force. After visiting Darfur, the delegation travels to Chad and concludes its trip in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Khartoum continues to oppose a U.N. force despite the signing of a Darfur peace agreement on May 5, which the government said was a pre-condition for deployment of U.N. troops in Darfur. The Security Council approved a resolution calling upon the Sudanese government to facilitate the access of U.N. planners by May 23. On May 25, following a recent visit to Khartoum, U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi announced that the Sudanese government had agreed to the entry of a U.N. planning team, but did not give its consent to a U.N. force in Darfur.

Human Rights Watch urged Security Council member states to:

• Ensure that any U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a U.N. force for Darfur calls for U.N. forces to “use all necessary means” to protect civilians, under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

• Support the African Union’s efforts in Darfur to reach full operational capacity, including rapid response capabilities, and to robustly interpret its mandate to protect civilians until transition to a U.N. force. Member states must immediately fund and provide technical support and personnel to the African Union, and later, to the U.N. mission in Darfur.

• Take all necessary measures – including ensuring the full implementation of the arms embargo, applying further sanctions on Sudanese government officials, pledging and providing resources to the U.N., and passing the necessary resolutions – to ensure the deployment of a U.N. force in Darfur by October 1, 2006 (following expiry of the mandate of AU mission in Darfur on September 30, 2006).

More than 2 million civilians were “ethnically cleansed” from 2003 until the present and now live in camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad. Human Rights Watch called on Security Council members to demonstrate their commitment to the “responsibility to protect” populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity set out in Security Council Resolution 1674, and make civilian protection a priority in the delegation’s upcoming visit to the region.

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