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For Immediate Release

25 Human Rights, Humanitarian and Conflict Prevention Organizations Call for Aggressive Diplomacy with the Sudanese Government

Groups Request Deployment of a UN Peacekeeping Force

Cambridge, Mass - 09/13/2006

In a statement released today, an international coalition of 25 human rights, humanitarian and conflict prevention organizations condemned the Government of Sudan’s (GOS) recent military build-up and intensifying attacks on civilians in northern Darfur. They called on the international community to mount intensive diplomatic efforts, beginning at the opening of the new session of the United Nations General Assembly, to halt the GOS offensive. They also recommended that the United Nations prepare to deploy the UN peacekeeping force authorized on August 31st by the Security Council regardless of the acquiescence of the Sudanese Government.

Darfur is witnessing increased bloodshed. International aid groups are pulling out due to the insecurity. The mandate of the African Union (AMIS) force of approximately 7,000 in Darfur expires at the end of September. Though chronically under-resourced and understaffed, AMIS is still the only source of protection for civilians in Darfur. Yet, the GOS is threatening to expel the AU force unless it rejects any transition to a UN-sponsored force and accepts funding by the Sudanese Government. The Government in Khartoum has also vowed to fight against the deployment of a UN force.

"The nations of the world have not stood up to Khartoum’s blatant violations of humanitarian law and the Darfur Peace Agreement which it signed in May,” said Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director for Physicians for Human Rights, who recently returned from a trip to Darfur. "We cannot continue to allow the GOS, the primary aggressor responsible for the destruction of thousands of villages and the deaths of tens of thousands, to dictate the terms in Darfur. Key international actors, including the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union, the United States and the European Union must speak out forcefully against Khartoum’s aggression, while simultaneously preparing to deploy a United Nations force by October 1 that is capable of protecting the people of Darfur.”

"The immediate future looks terrifying for the civilians in Darfur. If AMIS leaves and is not replaced by an international peacekeeping force, the vacuum will undoubtedly be filled by the GOS military offensive in Darfur,” said Osman Hummaida, Director of the Sudanese Organization Against Torture. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, predicts that Darfur is headed for a "major catastrophe.”

The GOS and its proxy forces, the Janjaweed militias, are responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the displacement of nearly three million people since violence erupted in Darfur in early 2003.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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