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HRW: UN should improve protection civilians Darfur

June 12 - 2015 NEW YORK
Daniel Beleke, Africa Director (HRW)
Daniel Beleke, Africa Director (HRW)

Instead of withdrawing from Darfur, the UN Security Council should require more vigorous civilian protection in West Sudan. This says director Daniel Beleke, Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement while the UN is up to renew the mandate of the Darfur peacekeeping mission on 24 June.

“Darfur’s downward spiral means that hundreds of thousands of civilians urgently need protection,” Beleke said. “Any Unamid [African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur] downsizing risks being harmful to civilians unless it is balanced by stronger civilian protection and robust human rights reporting.”

Sudan has demanded that the mission withdraws, has shut down its human rights liaison office in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and expelled top UN staff in December 2014. HRW peacekeepers have not been allowed meaningful access to the embattled East Jebel Mara area in the center of Darfur for five years. The mission also has a mandate to report on human rights abuses but has continually failed to produce sufficient public reporting, Bekele noticed.

“Abuses have included the destruction and burning of villages, rampant sexual violence against women and girls, and massive forced displacement of civilians”. In February 2015, Human Rights Watch documented the mass rape of up to 221 women and girls by Sudanese forces during a 36-hour period in late October and early November 2014 in the town of Tabit, North Darfur.

“Unamid should establish new temporary operating bases in both government-controlled and rebel-controlled areas.

Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces led by former militia commander, General Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti' Dongolo, continued to attack civilians in 2015 in East Jebel Mara. Tens of thousands of residents there have been displaced to areas where they lack adequate food, water, and shelter, according to HRW. The Sudanese government has denied Unamid and all aid agencies access to the affected areas in East Jebel Mara.

“Unamid should establish new temporary operating bases in both government-controlled and rebel-controlled areas where it now has little or no presence, including ... East Jebel Mara,” the director urged the Security Council.

“Civilians in Jebel Mara and other parts of Darfur are as vulnerable to serious abuses as they were 12 years ago when Darfur was on the global agenda.”

Related article:

Unamid urged to open base in Tabit after mass rape (11 February 2015)

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