Sudanese Forces Attack UNAMID Peacekeepers in Darfur

10/01/2008
Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT), condemn the attack apparently launched by Sudanese troops on January 7 against a convoy belonging to the newly-established United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

A spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said that at 10:00pm local time, a clearly marked convoy carrying rations for UNAMID personnel was attacked by elements of the Sudanese armed forces while on its way from Um Baru to Tine in West Darfur. A civilian Sudanese driver suffered seven gunshot wounds. Some reports suggest the troops mistook the UNAMID convoy for rebels.

UNAMID took over at the start of this year from an under-manned African Union peacekeeping mission which struggled to maintain security in the vast region and had itself come under attack. The new hybrid force is due to eventually consist of some 26,000 personnel but only around 9,000 are currently on the ground in Darfur. It has faced obstruction from the Sudanese government, whose efforts have included objecting to troop contributions from non-African countries and refusing to allow peacekeeping aircraft to fly at night. The international community has also failed to provide equipment that is crucial if UNAMID is to operate effectively, including helicopters.

In the meantime, the humanitarian and human rights situation in Darfur remains dire and has in many ways worsened in recent months. Instability and violence within camps housing internally displaced persons has increased and aid workers are unable to access large swathes of the region due to insecurity. Recent air strikes by Chadian forces against Chadian rebels who are said to have posts in Darfur underlined the risk that escalating tensions between Sudan and Chad could lead to a further deterioration of the security situation throughout the region.

FIDH and SOAT call on the Sudanese government to:

- Provide the guarantees called for by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon that there will be no recurrence of this week’s attack on UNAMID personnel
- Cease all efforts at obstruction and cooperate fully and promptly with all processes necessary for the deployment of the full UNAMID force in as soon as possible.
FIDH and SOAT call on UN and AU member states to:
- Speed up the deployment of UNAMID and provide the outstanding equipment needed for the force to fulfil its mandated tasks
- Firmly and publicly pressure the Sudanese authorities to cooperate with UNAMID and facilitate its swift deployment
- Speed up the deployment of the MINURCAT force intended to improve security, protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian assistance in Eastern Chad and the Central African Republic according to UN Security Council Resolution 1778.

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