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Sudan: Donors Must Boost Protection Force in Darfur

After North-South Conflict, Reconstruction Aid Must Prioritize Rights Protection

At the international donors conference on Sudan that opens Monday in Oslo, donor governments must fund urgent protection measures for civilians in Darfur’s ongoing conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. At the same time, donors should make human rights protections and the rule of law central to aid for reconstruction after the country’s 21-year civil war in the south, Human Rights Watch said.

At the conference, which Norway is convening on April 11-12, the United States, European Union countries and other donor governments will pledge support for post-conflict reconstruction in Sudan. The conference follows the signing in January of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), an accord that ended the conflict between Khartoum and southern based rebels. Donors will also discuss the situation in Darfur and the international response so far.

“Donors discussing post-war aid for Sudan must also fund immediate measures to end the ongoing atrocities in Darfur,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Real peace in Sudan will only come if donors help provide urgently needed protection for civilians in Darfur.”

While the Security Council referral of the situation of Darfur to the International Criminal Court is an excellent step that should lead to a reduction in abuses, more international military presence is required in Darfur to protect civilians and assist them to return to their homes and farms.

Donor governments and the United Nations must take immediate steps to prevent the consolidation of ethnic cleansing, which would leave some two million Darfurians without their homes, land and property. Currently confined to camps, almost two million victims of ethnic cleansing remain dependent on the international community for food, aid and other humanitarian assistance. Lacking adequate protection, they continue to encounter threats from government-backed Janjaweed militias, and government and security forces and are unable to return home.

“The current situation for civilians in Darfur is unacceptable. They need immediate protection from ongoing attacks so they can return home and begin to rebuild their lives,” said Takirambudde. “Donors should immediately provide support for an expanded African Union protection mission.”

Funding is also needed to increase the number of U. N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights monitors in Darfur. The mandate of the human rights monitoring mission in Sudan should clearly include monitoring, documentation and regular public reporting.

Human Rights Watch further urged that justice, the rule of law and accountability be central to the reconstruction efforts in Sudan. An independent and impartial justice system and accountability mechanisms, as well as south-south reconciliation and active participation of civil society in the new government of the South, are key requirements for the post-conflict transition.

“The Sudanese people have suffered from decades of armed conflict and repression,” said Takirambudde. “Ensuring protection of human rights and accountability for past atrocities should be high on the donors’ list of priorities.”

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