DARFUR: A WAKE UP CALL FOR
Adeeb Abdel Rhman Yousif
Human Rights Defender
Date: August 14th 2008
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in at least 50 countries around the world, an estimated 35 million uprooted people are living in a state of flight from conflict and persecution, while many other millions have been displaced by natural disasters. A large proportion of these uprooted people are classified as ¡¥Internally Displaced
Between 1986 and 2006 an estimated 3.5 million children have died in war
A further 5-6 million have been wounded or disabled
20 million made homeless and 3 million orphaned or separated from parents
Currently over 90% of war casualties are civilians
WHO ARE IDPs?
IDPs are people who, through natural disaster or conflict, have had to flee their homes but have stayed within their state of origin. It is estimated that 25 million IDPs have been created from conflict and violence around the world. In
Sudan alone there are an estimated 5.5 million IDPs.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS FACED BY IDPs
The immediate issues facing IDPs are those of survival and protection. According to Dennis McNamara, Director of the UN Internal Displacement Division, protection remains a major concern. It is a highly sensitive issue due to the whole emphasis given to national sovereignty, and requires careful handling.
IDPs often have nobody to turn to. Many governments, though responsible for the security and well-being of their citizens, are unable or unwilling to help; government-backed militias, or governments themselves, are sometimes the main agents of displacement.
IDPs often remain exposed to grave security risks and human rights violations, and assistance often does not reach them because of insecurity, governments limiting humanitarian access, or lack of attention by national or international actors.
IDPs are among the most vulnerable victims of conflict. Like refugees, they have fled fighting or human rights abuses but, unlike them, they have not crossed an international border. This means that the international community is not under the same legal obligation to protect them, help them to return home, or find them somewhere new to live. Millions are forced to live in utter destitution, without adequate access to food, jobs, healthcare and education.
The world has grown used to large numbers of displaced people across
Africa. What we have yet to get across is just how corrosive displacement is - it saps the people¡¦s will to get their lives back on track.
This continued dilemma facing the international community results in reactive responses to IDPs, coupled with an absence of preventative action. The world is only able to deal with the symptoms, and not the disease itself, that causes displacement.
WHERE DO WE IN OUR EFFORTS TO ASSIST IDPs?
The Guiding Principles developed for IDPs have been a huge contribution to refugee law and IDPs protection.
The 30 principles create a clear legal framework for the protection of IDPs, and are the first international standards to define their rights, the obligation of both governments and rebel groups to protect them, and to empower the IDPs themselves.
Under the Guiding Principles, IDPs have the right to request and receive protection and humanitarian assistance from national authorities.
At their core the Guiding Principles represent a potentially formidable tool for the empowerment of IDPs, and are also meant to provide direction for UN agencies and other organizations concerned with IDPs.
The Principles further speak of the right of IDPs to participate in planning and distributing supplies, and in managing their return home and reintegration. Knowledge of these rights is very clearly a first step to acquiring power. The Guiding Principles also set standards against which conditions in countries can be monitored and assessed.
The Guiding Principles make it clear that IDPs not only need to have their basic needs fulfilled but also have the right to protection, and that there is a need to create a framework for developing protection strategies.
If disseminated, understood and implemented, the Guiding Principles represent a critical tool for responding to the needs of IDPs.
WHAT CAN WE DO IN THE LONG TERM TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT?
As pointed out earlier, efforts to address the plight of IDPs have focused on symptoms as opposed to root causes of displacement. So, what are the root causes of displacement? Most IDPs are displaced by internal conflicts. Most conflicts in Africa have been internal: the prevalence of unstable states, underdevelopment combined with unremitting poverty, weak civil societies, social marginalization and the absence of accountable governments are factors raised by analysts to explain the social and political strife that has produced a disproportionate number of IDPs in
To prevent more internal displacement, it is essential that we do more to prevent the conflicts that force people to flee. Before we start working on conflict prevention, we need to these conflicts in a historical perspective.
HOW DO WE PREVENT CONFLICTS ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT?
In order to prevent conflict on the African continent, we must develop and sustain a culture of peace and peaceful co-existence amongst the people of
Peace-building encompasses measures in the context of emerging, current or post-conflict situations for the explicit purpose of preventing violent conflict and promoting lasting and sustainable peace.
This is the work that begins once armed conflict has stopped. It involves the complex task of rebuilding society, healing the wounds of war, and creating the conditions necessary for a sustainable peace.
Increasing socio-economic differences, unequal distribution of benefits or burdens, marginalization of vulnerable groups or geographical regions, and relative deprivation are all factors that may cause or trigger conflict. Others are competition for limited natural resources for livelihoods, such as water and arable land, as well as environmental degradation. Conflicts may be fuelled by competition for valuable and easily tradable natural resources, such as diamonds, oil and metals. Efforts to build peace must address these fundamental or triggering drivers of conflict.
A pressing challenge in post-conflict situations is the repatriation and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Infrastructure and important government functions may have to be built or rebuilt (often called ¡§quick impact projects¡¨)
Efforts to promote lasting and sustainable peace must encompass not only quick impact projects, but also long-term development programmes for high-quality and accessible education and health services for everyone.
Peace-building should include measures to stimulate productive sector development, employment, trade and investment. This includes legal and economic reforms, institutional co-operation and technical co-operation.
As can be seen from the multitude of interventions included under ¡§peace-building¡¨ it is clear that national governments alone can not deliver. Technical and financial assistance from non-governmental organizations and the international community and is needed to build and expand national capacity for a sustainable and just peace
HOW TO ACHIEVE A JUST AND SUSTAINABLE PEACE IN
I have always contended that if we want to reach sustainable peace in Darfur, and elsewhere in
Sudan, we must go through a participatory process where people are empowered at the grassroots and enabled to make decisions for themselves. This is why others and I insist on consulting all Darfuris with different divisions and tribes ¡Vfrom the women and children to the IDPs and refugees, from rich and from poor.
The following are a cross-section of the issues that consultation meeting should cover:-
Ending the hostilities;
Security arrangement beneficial to all sides;
ƒnPeaceful co-existence and reconciliation;
Good Governance (including country divisions);
Progressive relations with the central Government;
Access to natural resources; and
Human Rights, Reconstruction, and Development.
Peace to Justice and Justice to peace.
Intra-Darfur Dialogue to be initiated, bringing together all local stakeholders, and addressing all issues ¡V racism, marginalization, underdevelopment, environmental degradation, livestock migration routes, and the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural character of Darfur. Compensation for personal loses during the conflict must be resolved to the reasonable satisfaction of all victims.
Disarmament, demobilization and re-integration (DDR) programme for SLA/JEM combatants not integrated in the regular armed forces as well as the Janjaweed.
In summary; to end the conflict in
Darfur we have to be ready to bring all stakeholders to and to put all issues on the table, even those considered taboo. As our brother and eminent son of Sudan Francis Mading Deng once said,
¡§What divides us is what we don¡¦t talk about¡¨¡K