Petition on Renewed Violence in Darfur

To
The UN Secretary General
The President and Members of the UN Security Council
The President and Members of the UN Human Rights Council
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, 25th January 2016
Petition on Renewed Violence in Darfur
Excellences,
We, members of the Sudanese community – from Darfur and other parts of Sudan – resident
in Switzerland wish to draw your attention to the fact that since 15 January 2016, the
Government of Sudan (GoS) has renewed its scorched-earth military campaign in Darfur and
deployed a large military force using heavy military equipment, including military jets and
artillery. Indiscriminate aerial bombardment is intensively used against civilian areas in Jebel
Marra (Central Darfur State) followed by ground attacks by the army and the Janjaweed
militia groups – re-baptized as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF have been
committing massive human rights abuses as well as war crimes, crimes against humanity,
ethnic cleansing and all other forms of atrocities against the civilian population. The exact
number of casualties due to the ongoing military offensive is not yet known due to lack of
access to the region by independent agencies. At least 100 villages were destroyed or
abandoned in whole or in part and thousands of livestock and other civilian properties were
looted. Sexual violence against women and girls as a weapon of war is rampant, especially
around major town such as Nertiti and Rokoro.
In West Darfur State violence, destruction of properties and displacement of civilians were
reported on 9, 10 and 11 January 2016 when government armed pastoralists attacked more
than seven villages around Molie area – about 8km south of El-Genena capital of West Darfur
State. On 10 January 2016, about 1,000 civilians who were forced to flee Molie staged a
peaceful protest in front of the State’s Governor office asking for protection and end to militia
activities in their area. The demonstration subsequently turned violent when the security
forces dispersed the protesters killing at least 12 people. The newly displaced persons have
now moved to Abu Zar internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in El-Genena. In 2015, the
Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) recorded 809 security events
(instances of armed conflict, killings, riots, recruitment activities by partiers to the conflict,
protests and violence against civilians, and non-violent events) in Darfur which accounted for
68 per cent of all security events in Sudan.
The humanitarian situation in the IDP camps is aggravating by the day and the numbers of
IDPs is in steady increase. According to conservative UN estimates, Darfur is host to an IDP
population of over 3,000,000. They live in precarious humanitarian conditions lacking basic
needs. Meanwhile, the government continues to suspend or deport international humanitarian
agencies and relief organizations from the region and the country. On 20 January 2016 GoS
expelled Tearfund – an international aid organisation – which has been working in Sudan for
more than a decade. In March 2009, GoS expelled 13 major international humanitarian
organisations that catered for more than 50% of the basic needs of IDP populations.
Excellences,
Armed conflict, violence and forced displacement in Darfur during the last 13 years have left
immense sorrow and agony among millions of innocent victims. Information we gathered
indicate that at least 500,000 million people lost their lives due to fighting or war-induced
reasons while more than 4,000,000 have lost their land and properties and now live in
miserable IDP camps. Despite the world efforts, the situation has not yet improved which
requires the world to redouble its efforts and action. Failure to do so amounts to abandoning
the victims of the humanitarian tragedy in Darfur and represents a scar on the world’s
collective conscience.
We call on the international community to take immediate measures to:
1. Ensure an immediate end to military operations, including aerial bombardment
of civilian targets and residential areas in Darfur.
2. Protect the civilian populations in Darfur by establishing a no-fly zone all-over
the region and by enacting the existing measures to curtail the inflow of
weapon in Darfur.
3. Strengthen the mandate of the African Union and United Nations Hybrid
Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and provide it with additional means and
powers to protect the civilian population and ensure timely reporting of
incidents of violence and violations of international human rights and
humanitarian law.
4. Allow UN relief agencies and humanitarian aid organizations unhindered
access to the affected populations.
5. End the massive violations of international human rights and humanitarian law
in Darfur and hold accountable all individuals accused of the commission of
war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
6. Arrest and handover all individuals accused by the International Criminal
Court of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in
Darfur, including President Omar Al-Bashir.
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