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Darfur Union’s (UK) letter to the Prime Minster David Cameron after the demonstration

03-31-2014, 03:27 AM
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Darfur Union’s (UK) letter to the Prime Minster David Cameron after the demonstration

    Dear Prime Minister

    In 2006 when you visited refugee camps in Darfur you brought hope to millions of people because you told the world the truth about what was happening in their homeland when you wrote, “This is ethnic cleansing – and we cannot remain silent in the face of this horror.”

    Sadly for the people of Darfur, the horror never went away. The Sudanese armed forces and their proxies continue to kill, rape, and loot, destroying livelihoods and families. You have seen for yourself the human cost of Khartoum’s policy of ethnic cleansing. You memorably asked a local man you met how he knew it was government troops who had attacked his village. He told you, “Because they got out of government helicopters in government uniforms.”

    Yet, as you wrote at the time of your visit, “I saw for myself how well practised Sudanese government officials are at offering slippery explanations for the violence their regime is perpetrating.”

    The United Nations estimates that another 200,000 people in Darfur have fled their homes since January this year, adding to the estimated two million already living in camps. The Sudanese armed forces and its proxies, the Rapid Response Forces led by Hemeti, have been sweeping through villages, leaving people dead, communities in ruins, and causing tens of thousands at a time to run for their lives. The current incarnation of the Janjaweed are better equipped than their predecessors and can inflict greater damage, more quickly. As one member of the community put it “In three weeks hundreds of villages have been destroyed and tens of thousands displaced. It is worse than it was ten years ago!”

    The United Nations has warned in unusually stark terms of the alarming escalation in violence against unarmed civilians in Darfur in the last few weeks. When students in Khartoum staged a peaceful protest against the surge in violence in Darfur, they were met with disproportionate force; one student was killed and dozens remain in detention.

    The rapid deterioration in security in Darfur demands a robust response from the UK. For years Britain has underestimated the influence it still has in Khartoum. We urge you to please use your position to demand that President Bashir and the National Congress Party abide by international conventions and treaties they have signed, by the African Union bill of rights to which Sudan is a party, to sundry UN Security Council resolutions, and to peace deals Khartoum has signed and broken without any consequences since the violence began in Darfur in 2003.

    If smart sanctions can be rapidly and effectively imposed against Russian individuals in response to the occupation of Crimea, then why has it taken so long for UNSC resolutions to be enforced? In 2006 you wrote about the need to personally target the architects of the ethnic cleansing in Sudan, freezing their bank accounts and extending travel bans. Even with an ICC indictment for genocide, President Bashir behaves with impunity, correctly concluding he can continue with his policies without fear of reprimand and punishment by the international community.

    The joint UN/African Union peacekeeping force, UNAMID, remains neutered by the lack of political will to support its primary objective, the protection of civilians under a Chapter VII mandate. Hence its officers get little backing from UNHQ when they find their work impeded by Sudanese security forces on a daily basis. More than 70 peacekeepers have died since UNAMID was deployed, and yet the UN has never pressed the regime to punish those responsible. This lack of commitment to making UNAMID effective also sends an unhelpful message to those in Khartoum who read the indifference of the international community as weakness. As it is, UNAMID is an enormously expensive fig leaf. Britain has it in its power to change this situation, and we urge you to do so.

    Finally, there must be recognition that the root of Darfur’s problems are political, and not simply because of poverty or lack of development. This crisis will not be solved by well-meaning DFID programmes. A political crisis demands a political solution. So long as Khartoum faces no consequences for breaking its promises again and again, few in Darfur will believe Bashir and the NCP can be trusted to uphold their side of the Doha peace agreement. Civil society and rebel groups alike are therefore reluctant to engage in Doha as no penalties for non-compliance have been served on the Sudanese government, making Doha an impotent token of international engagement which has lost credibility. Aligning the Darfur peace process to the political crisis faced by the whole of Sudan is the only way of achieving peace throughout the country as the piecemeal approach has been proven to fail.

    Among the many soft-power levers at Britain’s disposal is Khartoum’s desperate need for debt relief. Until the Sudanese regime stops killing its own unarmed civilians in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, Britain’s technical advisors should cease any contact with their opposite numbers with regard to negotiating debt relief. The technical advisors are next due to meet in April on the margins of the World Bank/IMF meeting. Khartoum might finally understand the UK is in earnest if such contacts were severed immediately.

    The terror is as palpable in Darfur today as when you visited, if not more so, and with it is a sense of hopelessness, when after so many years, Khartoum has not been held to account for its ethnic cleansing policies. Almost uniquely among world leaders, you have seen the reality of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. We urge you to use Britain’s diplomatic weight in Khartoum, in the Troika along with Norway and the USA, and on the UNSC to ensure the Sudanese regime achieves genuine democratic transformation, delivering a comprehensive and sustainable peace for the marginalized regions of Sudan.

    Yours sincerely




    Muatasim Abdallah
    Chairperson, Darfur Union UK and Ireland
    Flat 67, Martineau Tower, Uxbridge Street, Birmingham, B19 3UL

    The Baroness Cox
    House of Lords and CEO Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)
    3 Arnellan House, 144-146 Slough Lane, Kingsbury, NW9 8XJ

    Isobel Crowther
    Director, Waging Peace
    Park Place, 12 Lawn Lane, London, SW8 1UD

    Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead
    House of Lords

    Mariam Suleiman
    President, Voice of Darfur Women
    16 Moulsford House, Rowstock Gardens , London N7 0BE





    HUMANITARIAN SITUATION DRAMATICALLY DETERIORATING IN SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN: SCALED-UP RESPONSE URGENTLY NEEDED


    (New York, 25 March 2014) UN OCHA Operations Director John Ging today expressed deep concern about the massive and growing humanitarian needs in Sudan and the conflict devastating South Sudan and its people.

    Briefing the press with Yasmine Haque of UNICEF after their week-long visit to Sudan and South Sudan, with fellow Emergency Directors from the Danish Refugee Council, FAO, IOM, UNHCR, WFP and WHO, Mr. Ging appealed for renewed attention and commitment to the plight of people in both countries.

    “The people of Sudan are facing an overwhelming humanitarian crisis that has almost entirely slipped off the international community’s radar,” said Mr. Ging. “More people were displaced in Darfur in 2013 than in any single year since 2004, and almost 200,000 people have already been displaced this year. Yet, while people’s needs are increasing, international attention and commitment are at an all-time low.”

    Over two million people are displaced in Darfur and more than 6.1 million people need humanitarian assistance across Sudan. The latter represents a 40% increase since January 2013. Many people do not have access to the most basic healthcare, education, water and sanitation, yet, just three per cent of the funding required for humanitarian action in Sudan in 2014 has been received - US$34 million out of $995 million.

    Mr. Ging said that the Emergency Directors engaged in a constructive dialogue with Sudanese authorities and emphasised the need for greater access for humanitarian organisations particularly in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.

    “Nearly two years since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2046, aid has still not been delivered to rebel-held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, where it is estimated 800,000 people are in need of assistance,” said Mr. Ging. “We hope the positive discussions will be swiftly converted into aid on the ground. With the lean season rapidly approaching, we cannot overstate the urgency of the humanitarian needs.”

    Since the start of the brutal crisis in South Sudan, thousands of people have been killed, more than 700,000 people have been displaced within South Sudan, and nearly a quarter of a million have and#64258;ed to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Nearly five million people now urgently need basic humanitarian aid in South Sudan.

    “The scale of death and destruction in the world’s newest nation since last December is appalling,” said Mr. Ging. “Six months ago, the country was on the right path to development. Today, the parties to the conflict are wantonly destroying the very infrastructure which was laying the foundation for the country’s future. I appeal to all those with influence to urgently end the violence.”

    Around 925,000 people - including people internally displaced, refugees from other countries sheltering in South Sudan and other vulnerable communities - have had some humanitarian relief since January 2014. But much more remains to be done. Mr. Ging appealed to the international community to rapidly provide funding for the response. With the rainy season due to begin in earnest in June, the clock is racing against the humanitarian response.

    “The people of Sudan and South Sudan are facing huge challenges and they deserve the support and attention of the international community,” stressed Mr. Ging. “We urge the parties to the conflicts, and all who have influence on them, to end the violence and to make it possible for aid to be delivered on the massive and swift scale that is needed.”
                  

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