“The Sudanese government cannot claim to be working to protect the people of Darfur, yet allow its proxy forces to attack civilians with impunity, as is happening,” Amnesty International said today. The organization called on the UN Security Council to strongly censure the Sudanese government following a series of orchestrated attacks on civilians in Darfur by Janjawid militia.
“The Sudanese government bears primary responsibility for these Janjawid attacks, which have left many dead and injured and left inhabitants of the area paralysed with fear and unable to carry out their daily activities,” said Amnesty International.
“The UN Security Council must insist that the Sudanese government immediately disarm these Janjawid militia, arrest them and prosecute them for the war crimes they are committing.”
The Sudanese government, in its quest for a military solution to the crisis, continues to refuse to disarm and demobilize Janjawid militia, despite international outrage.
“The Sudanese government – instead of disarming the Janjawid – is actually nurturing their influence. It continues to arm Janjawid members, integrate them into paramilitary forces, and even facilitate immunity from prosecution,” said Amnesty International.
Sunday, 6 April marked the beginning of a series of what appeared to be orchestrated attacks on the towns of El Fasher and Kabkabiya in North Darfur. Both were carried out by Janjawid militia dressed in civilian clothes and border guard uniforms who raided the towns in armed vehicles and on camel and horseback.
Threats of similar attacks were reported to have spread, and Janjawid militia were seen passing through the town of Tawila, also located in North Darfur.
The attacks followed a familiar Janjawid pattern. Janjawid members forcefully collected money and goods from inhabitants, banks and small businesses in the two towns. Markets were occupied by force and looted, while merchants were attacked and robbed. Four were reportedly killed and many injured.
“The fact that the attacks are happening right under the noses of the UNAMID forces stationed there increases the climate of fear, as it leads to people feeling that the UN cannot adequately protect them,” said Amnesty International. “The UN Security Council must ensure that the UNAMID is fully deployed and resourced without further delay, and pro-actively fulfilling its mandate so that these attacks can be prevented in future.”
UNAMID forces deployed to Kabkabiya when the Janjawid attack began, but retired when the Sudanese army arrived. Three civilians were killed in Kabkabiya.
UNAMID did not intervene to stop the Janjawid attack in El Fasher. The response to the attack was instead managed by the national police, tribal leaders and the governor, who intervened with the Janjawid’s leadership to stop the attack. One person was killed, several injured, and the climate of fear and insecurity lasted for two days.
Amnesty International is very concerned that such attacks can take place notwithstanding the presence of UNAMID forces, whose mandate is to protect civilians in Darfur.
“The deployment of the full contingent of UNAMID troops and the provision of necessary helicopters and equipment would allow the forces to expand their protection to a larger territory,” said Amnesty International. “It would also allow them to increase their patrols and closely monitor the situation on the ground, which would in turn contribute to preventing attacks such as those recently witnessed.”