Using science and medicine to stop human rights violations
New Attacks in Darfur: Mutilation, Rape and Killing of Civilians
This week the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) reported on a series of attacks on the civilian population in North Darfur by Chadian rebel groups. Between December 10 2009 and January 3 2010, attacks---including mutilation, rape and killing of civilians---were documented in the cities of Malit, Alsuyah and surrounding areas. Yet no word of the atrocities was reported by international news outlets. ACJPS has called for a full and thorough investigation of these attacks, which may constitute war crimes under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.These reports from North Darfur draw attention to ongoing insecurity in parts of the three Darfur states and to the continuing failures of the current reporting system to highlight security threats. The month-long campaign of violence illustrates the UNAMID peacekeeping force's limited capacity to respond proactively to protect civilians---as the force now enters its 2nd year of deployment with only 15,000 military personnel deployed.PHR continues to urge donor governments to honor troop commitments in order to make UNAMID an effective protection force prepared to take robust action to protect civilians. Material, logistical and political support are needed in order to fulfill the mandate of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force, which includes not only direct civilian protection, but also?restoration of security conditions necessary for humanitarian delivery and promotion of human rights and the rule of law. In addition, the current deficit of women peacekeepers, police officers and translators, along with the lack of an integrated strategy to combat sexual and gender-based violence (expected some time this year), restricts the capacity of present uniformed personnel to respond to the needs of survivors.The civilians left in the wake of the atrocities in North Darfur require medical treatment, including psychosocial services, and the communities of Um Za'at, Um Shurbak, Takous, Hilat Awlad Mahmoud villages destroyed in attacks on November 9 need support for rebuilding. The main UN humanitarian relief agency, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), is not authorized to work with internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sudan, so these services must be provided by international and national NGOs in the area---making the presence of properly trained NGO personnel essential, and effective coordination from UN sector leads indispensable (UNFPA and UNICEF in the case of the protection sector). On the Chadian side, it is vital that the returned rebels face justice, which requires international support for much needed justice system reforms in Chad and support for the DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) mandate.UNAMID needs a coordinated response from the international community in 2010 to finally resolve the issues that for 2 years have hindered its performance and the realization of it's mandate. Even the full deployment of 27, 000 UNAMID uniformed personnel, along with necessary military and other material (including military helicopters), will provide only minimum conditions for peacekeepers to address necessary measures to protect refugees, facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid and help provide United Nations personnel with protection and freedom of movement. Finally, as the events of the past month have highlighted, there is a continuing and urgent need to establish a regular system of information sharing and strategic collaboration on the security situation in Darfur and affected surrounding areas in Eastern Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR)---which should include UNAMID and MINURCAT (its peacekeeping counterpart in Chad and CAR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).The ACJPS report of December 10 - January 3 attacks can be found at ACJPS.