Between 4 and 8 July 2006, some 72 people were killed, 103 injured and 39 women raped in targeted attacks against civilians in the Korma region, 70 km north west of al-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.
This time, the attackers were members of the Minni Minawi faction of the armed political group the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), reportedly supported by the Sudan armed forces and the Janjawid.
The African Union force was not able to protect civilians.
The attacks were spread over five days, although the killings took place mostly on 5 and 6 July. Villages around Korma town were the first to be hit – they included the villages of Dalil, Hillat Hashab, Oste, Umm Kitaira, Diker, Talbonj, Magdum and Jafafil. One pupil was killed at a school in Dalil while ten other school pupils and a teacher were shot dead as they tried to escape. Seven women were killed in the assaults. Two people were abducted, one of them identified as Basha Adam Abaker from the village of Hillat Goz. Large numbers of livestock and possessions were looted. According to eyewitnesses, the villagers were not armed. Their attackers said they were being punished for opposing the Darfur Peace Agreement.
Korma town now lies practically emptied of its population. Most of the inhabitants of the region fled to camps for displaced people around al-Fasher, about 70 km away. Some of those on foot took four days to make the journey. The UN, which has investigated the attacks, estimates that some 8,000 civilians were forcibly displaced that week, as a result of these attacks and other fighting in North Darfur.
The Korma attacks show that, two years after the first UN Security Council resolution in July 2004 on Darfur and two months after the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006, grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law continue unabated in Darfur. These include unlawful killings, acts of torture, including rape, and abductions of civilians, and looting of civilian property.
The Korma attacks are also significant because:
· The attackers were members of the SLA faction led by Minni Minawi, known as SLA (MM), who were reportedly supported by the Sudan armed forces and the Janjawid travelling in more than 20 armed vehicles. Some of the vehicles were said to come from al-Fasher, the government-controlled capital of North Darfur state. The SLA (MM) faction is a signatory, with the Sudan government, to the Darfur Peace Agreement of May 2006. In recent weeks the SLA (MM) has attacked the bases, such as the Korma area, in North Darfur of other SLA factions (Abdel Wahed and Group of 19) that have refused to sign the agreement. Those against the agreement argue that it does not give enough guarantees for the disarmament of government militia and does not adequately address compensation for victims of human rights violations.
· The ferocity of the killing and looting have led local people to call the SLA (MM) attackers “Janjawid 2” after the notorious government-funded Janjawid militia who have killed, raped and driven from their homes some two million people in Darfur in the past three years.
· The African Union peacekeeping force in al-Fasher (African Union Mission in Sudan, AMIS) has not only been unable to protect civilians in Korma, but has yet to investigate the killings. Civilians reported the attacks to AMIS on 5 July, but the SLA (MM) reportedly opposed AMIS going to Korma. Only an AMIS outpost in Tawila went to Korma but it has not issued its findings. Those who signed the Darfur Peace Agreement refuse to include in the Ceasefire Commission the parties who have not signed, further hampering AMIS’ work. Because of its failure to protect civilians in Darfur, many of the local inhabitants have lost faith in AMIS.
Civilians in Darfur need effective protection NOW. They, the African Union and the Darfur armed opposition groups are all calling for a transfer of peacekeeping responsibilities to the UN, a call that the Sudanese President continues to reject.
Amnesty International is calling on the Sudanese government and the SLA (MM) faction to:
► Publicly commit to cease all attacks on civilians and respect international humanitarian and human rights law at all times.
► Take immediate action to bring to justice the perpetrators of attacks on civilians in Korma and anywhere in Darfur.
Amnesty International is calling on the Sudanese government to:
► Agree to the rapid deployment of a UN force with a mandate to effectively protect civilians from attacks in Darfur
Amnesty International is calling on the international community to:
► Rapidly deploy a UN peacekeeping force with a robust mandate to effectively protect civilians from attacks in Darfur.
► Reinforce AMIS immediately, including with experts in human rights and civil affairs, to restore relations with the people of Darfur and to provide civilians with effective protection from attacks.
► Publicly condemn the perpetrators of attacks on civilians in Korma and anywhere in Darfur.
Please send your appeals to:
► Lieutenant-General Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
President and Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces
PO Box 281
Fax: + 249 183 776603 / 777583
Salutation: Your Excellency
► Minni Arcou Minawi
President of the SLA (MM)
Satellite phone: +88 21621523864
(This phone works from a satellite so please send a brief text message giving your name and country and saying: “No more Korma – stop attacks on civilians” or similar)
► Your government’s Minister of Foreign Affairs as a member of the United Nations