UN human rights office calls on Sudan to investigate militia attacks, protect civilians

UN human rights office calls on Sudan to investigate militia attacks, protect civilians

Sudan’s Government should immediately investigate the recent militia attacks in the strife-torn West Darfur region that latest reports show killed around 50 civilians and affected up to 7,000 others, many of whom fled across the border to Chad, the United Nations human rights office said today.

Sudanese authorities also have a responsibility to protect civilians, disarm militias and allow access to treatment for those who were injured in the attacks that occurred in the Jebel Moon area on 29 and 30 October, José Luis Díaz, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva.

He said the OHCHR’s latest report on human rights in Sudan, released today and prepared in cooperation with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), called on the Government to conduct an impartial, transparent and timely investigation into the attacks with the aim of persecuting those who planned, orchestrated and carried them out.

The OHCHR report comes a day after Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the attacks and also called for the Government to protect civilians, a message that was echoed today by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR is extremely concerned about an attack on October 29 against civilians and displaced persons which occurred in the vicinity of Jebel Moon and Seleha areas, in West Darfur,” spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters at the Geneva briefing.

“Our team in eastern Chad reported a group of 10 refugees crossed the border fleeing from this incident, where reportedly 300-500 Arab militiamen on horseback raided at least eight villages as well as the Hajlija internally displaced persons (IDP) camp.”

Mr. Redmond said a UNHCR team was travelling to the border area near Birak on the Chadian side to monitor the situation and see what assistance the refugees needed. He also highlighted the growing number of IDPs inside Chad, who had been affected by the violence along the frontier.

“Recent inter-ethnic violence, including attacks by Arab-led armed groups along the tense border areas in eastern Chad adjacent to Darfur, has now pushed the numbers of internally displaced in the past year up to an estimated 63,000 from an earlier figure of 50,000.”

UNHCR is assisting some 218,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps in eastern Chad and more than 45,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in three camps in southern Chad.