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Human rights lag as insecurity rises in Sudan, warn UN envoy and report

9 August 2006 Security conditions in the Sudanese region of Darfur have worsened since the beginning of the year and the overall human rights situation remains dire, despite the striking of a peace agreement in May, according to the senior United Nations envoy to Sudan and a newly released UN report.

There have been few positive developments in the three months since the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, told a press conference in Khartoum today.

“We saw the non-signature of the agreement by quite a number of rebels; we saw splits in the opposition; we saw also troops who had not signed and started to fight,” said Mr. Pronk, who noted that the number of armed clashes had doubled from the same period a year ago.

While DPA signatories maintained their ceasefire towards each other, violence flared between signatories and non-signatory groups, according to a statement by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on security incidents during July in Darfur.

“Militia groups continued to operate with impunity throughout Darfur, attacking villages, stealing livestock and harassing internally displaced persons (IDPs) in and around their camps,” said the statement. It noted that the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) had resumed operations in some of those camps, though it had been warned by camp leaders to stay out of others.

The African Union (AU) has a 7,000-strong force trying to keep the peace in the strife-torn region where scores of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million displaced in the past three years.

Banditry continued throughout Darfur in recent months, with attacks on humanitarian workers, NGOs, and convoys growing increasingly brazen, said Mr. Pronk. Attacks on the international community had increased by 140% compared to a year earlier.

“People who work to the benefit of the people who are the victims have themselves become the victims,” he said. “This can not continue.”

Meanwhile, the human rights situation on the ground has not improved since the signing of the peace agreement, and in some places has actually worsened, according to a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the human rights office of UNMIS.

The report says that although fighting between the Sudan’s armed forces and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), one of the region’s rebel groups, lessened after the signing of the DPA, attacks on civilians by militias and rebel factions continued unabated, mainly in South and North Darfur.

The continued fighting has severely hampered efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, the report found. By the end of June, humanitarian organizations were unable to reach at least 250,000 people in need.

“Without additional government support, the DPA is doomed to failure, with the population of Darfur continuing to suffer grave violations of human rights as violence among competing armed groups in Darfur persists,” said the report.



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