Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Sudan: Darfur situation still troubling

UN Human Rights Commission spokesperson Jose Diaz has complained that the government of Sudan is blocking access to Darfur. Human rights investigators have been speaking to the refugees in Chad but have been unable to go into Sudan itself.

The ceasefire was supposed to fully kick in yesterday. But even then, the US State Department said that there hadn't been significant change on the ground.
Early reporting indicates some diminution in the fighting following the ceasefire going into effect, but we do still have reports that the government-supported Arab militias are attacking parts of western and southern Darfur.

There are also reports of continuing aerial bombardments, such as at Anka, A-n-k-a, northwest of Khartoum this morning. In addition, we understand that the militias remain in the vicinity of the Internally Displaced Persons camps, occupying land that they had claimed from Africans, and effectively preventing Internally Displaced Persons from returning to their homes.
UPDATE: AFP quotes an unnamed Chadian mediator who challenges the above.
"We have recorded no formal complaint of a ceasefire violation," a mediator told AFP on condition of anonymity.

... "We are pleased with the scrupulous respect of the ceasefire by the two sides since it took effect on Sunday," the mediator said.
UPDATE II: The European Union could send peacekeepers to Darfur (in yesterday's Financial Post).
"There is no reason why the EU could not go to, for instance, Sudan. I see it to be very possible. It would be mandated by the UN. It is part of the battlegroup concept," said Gen Hägglund [chairman of the EU's military committee].

Britain and France are spearheading ambitious defence plans for the EU through their "battlegroups". The idea is that the EU should be able to deploy within days up to 1,500 highly trained troops, with tasks ranging from peacekeeping to combat missions operating under a UN mandate. Gen Hägglund said the battlegroups could allow the EU "to take on more and be able to sustain itself".
(Story found via The Bonassus)

UPDATE III: According to this, Javier Solana's office has pulled away from Hagglund's statments (which were speculative to begin with). There are no talks or preparations to send a military mission to Darfur.
UPDATE IV: A day after making the disheartening comments about the situation in Darfur, State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said that the violence appeared to be diminishing.

UPDATE V: A separate humanitarian fact-finding mission, headed by the UN coordinator for humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, was supposed to be in Darfur on Sunday, April 18. However, Egeland postponed his trip as the Sudanese government requested a delay. With a recent humanitarian cease-fire undermined by continuing fighting, the Sudanese government suggested the trip be put off a week, but Egeland is unable to make the trip then, leaving plans for the visit unclear, the [unnamed UN] official said. This particular mission was arranged at the request of the government and was/is supposed to include representatives from several UN humanitarian agencies, as well as members of the Sudanese Government.