With both the Government and rebels in Sudan’s Darfur conflict violating United Nations resolutions, the Security Council should move swiftly to impose further sanctions, expand an arms embargo, and consider setting up a no-fly zone for government planes, according to the latest report from a panel of experts.
The panel, set up to help the Committee monitoring an arms embargo imposed by the Council, reports that weapons and Government troops continue to flow into the region, where some 180,000 people have been killed and 2 million more uprooted in the past three years, and the Government continues its offensive military overflights.
As a possible option for the overflights, the panel says the Council should consider establishing an air exclusion zone over the entire Darfur region for all Government aircraft, the report says.
The rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) has violated ceasefire accords by expanding territory under its control, while the Government has failed to identify and neutralize armed groups in the region, it adds.
Arms, especially small arms and ammunition, flowed into Darfur from other countries and other regions of Sudan during the January-March period despite the embargo, and the Government continued to move in armed troops and supplies without seeking Committee approval as required by last year’s Council resolution 1591.
Moreover pro-government Arab militias appear to be maintaining their stock of weapons and ammunition through support from Government entities, banditry and clandestine sources, the experts write.
They recommend expanding the embargo to all of Sudan, with certain exemptions for non-lethal supplies; establishing a verification mechanism; and imposing additional measures on the Government and SLA as entities rather than on individuals for actions that impede the peace process.
Since the report was prepared, the Council on Tuesday imposed restrictions on the assets and international travel of the commander of the Western Military Region for the Sudanese Air Force, a SLA commander, a field commander of another rebel group, the National Movement for Reform, and the paramount chief of the Jalul Tribe.
During the reporting period, the Panel continued to supply the Committee with information on individuals who have committed acts that may constitute violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, and it recommends that any UN mission in Darfur should include a strong civilian protection dimension.
In a related development, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) announced that it will start on Saturday a comprehensive training programme in Al-Fasher, Northern Darfur, on Saturday aimed at enhancing the capacities of the African Union (AU) force currently monitoring the region.
Also today, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that malnutrition in Darfur was creeping back up towards levels of 2003, due to lack of security and lack of access by aid groups.