For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) strongly condemns the Government of Sudan's plans to send 10,500 of its own troops to quell continuing violence in Darfur, and calls on the United Nations Security Council instead to pass the resolution expediting the deployment of a robust United Nations peacekeeping force to the region. The Sudanese government, and its proxy forces, the Janjaweed rebels, have been implicated in the violence that has wracked the westernmost region of Darfur since early 2003, resulting in the death of 200,000-400,000 people and displacement of nearly three million.
"It is absurd to imagine that the Government of Sudan would protect the people of Darfur – this is the same government that has been arming the Janjaweed, razing villages to the ground and killing civilians for the past three years," said PHR's Deputy Director, Susannah Sirkin, who recently returned from Darfur. "A government that has shown a clear intent to eradicate the people of Darfur cannot be entrusted with their security."
There are currently approximately 7,000 African Union (AMIS) troops stationed in Darfur, enforcing the fragile ceasefire. AMIS' mission has suffered from funding shortfalls and a weak mandate that does not allow them to directly protect civilians. Without further funding the force will withdraw at the end of September 2006. The United Nations Security Council has been deliberating whether to send a peacekeeping force to the region to augment the AMIS force, a move that Sudan's President, LT. Gen. Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, has vowed to block.
"It's long past time for the Security Council to take a unified and effective stance and deploy a strong peacekeeping force. Only a robust, well-equipped United Nations force can stop the violence in Darfur that has continued since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May, and which now includes different Darfurian factions attacking civilians," said Sirkin.
On August 17, Britain and the United States put forward a UN Security Council resolution to send 17,000 UN peacekeepers to Darfur by October 1, 2006.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.