Conflict management in Sudan : a crucial test for the African union

Press release
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While the heads of African states meet once again in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, on the fringe of the African union (UA) summit, on the situation in the Darfur, Sudanese region where occurs one of the current gravest humanitarian crisis in the world and where crimes against humanity are daily perpetrated, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) calls upon the international community to do everything possible to end the conflict and protect the civilian population.

An American draft resolution, supported by Germany, France, Great Britain and Romania, is being negotiated in the United Nations, threatening to sanction Arab militias leaders accused of the massacre of black populations of Darfur, as well as the Sudanese government charged accused of providing arms to the militias. Indeed, despite the signature of a moratorium between the Sudanese government and the United Nations, lifting all restrictions on humanitarian action, and the visit of the General Secretary of the United Nations Kofi Annan, last week, the persistence of insecurity in the region still does not allow the routing of food and drugs.

Moreover, the African union, which urged Sudan to neutralize militias, looks to send a protection force of approximately 300 men and also to entrust it a protection mandate for civilian population. According to the Chadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nagoum Yassoum, this protection force should be send as soon as possible. However, the absence of any agreement on the financing of the UA seems to compromise the fast sending of the mission. The sending of such mission sponsored by the African union will be the first since the creation of the UA in 2002, after having succeeded to the Organisation of African Unity (OUA), which was criticized for its inefficiency, and will be a crucial test for the future of the UA.

The FIDH recalls that the fightings raging in Darfur between the governmental forces and the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) killed more then 10,000 people, displaced close to one million of persons, and caused 120,000 refugees in Chad since February 2003.

The FIDH calls upon both parts into conflict to:

- immediately and definitively put an end to the hostilities ;
- continue negotiations to achieve an effective ceasefire and a political peace process ;
- respect fundamental principles of distinction and precaution guaranteed by international humanitarian law, and end attacks against civilian populations ;

The FIDH also urges the Sudanese Government to:

- strictly respect fundamental principles guaranteed by international humanitarian law and human rights instruments which bind it, notably its obligation to protect civilian population in every occasions, as provided in article 23 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and articles 2 and 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ;
- immediately start impartial and extensive investigations on charges for murders, torture and ill treatments, in the aim to identify the perpetrators, to bring an action against them and judge them in compliance with the international principles of human rights;

The FIDH calls upon the African union to:

- send, as soon as possible, a mission with a mandate including protection of civilian populations.

The FIDH calls the UN Security Council to:

- adopt, as soon as possible, a resolution requiring from the Sudanese government to immediately end its military and financial support to militias acting in the Darfur, under threat of sanctions.

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