Darfur: Abuses 'never stopped' even as Sudan celebrates peace

Darfur: Abuses 'never stopped' even as Sudan celebrates peace
NGOs have called for recognition of Sudanese government’s "continuing abuses" while the Sudanese president claims peace is returning to Darfur following a Qatar-brokered deal.
2 min read
08 September, 2016
Sheikh al-Thani of Qatar met with Sudan's al-Bashir in commemoration of the Doha Initiative
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir told a crowd of supporters on Wednesday that peace was returning to the troubled Darfur region in south-west Sudan, despite a recent escalation in violence.

The claim comes as aid groups said that abuses by Khartoum on Darfuri civilians have "not ended".

The speech was delivered hours before a group of 36 NGOs wrote to the UN Human Rights Council over the Sudanese government's "continuing abuses" in the Darfur region.

"We draw your attention to the Sudanese government's continuing abuses against civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, including unlawful attacks on villages and indiscriminate bombing of civilians," the letter said.

"We are also concerned about the continuing repression of civil and political rights, in particular the ongoing crackdown on protesters and abuse of independent civil society and human rights defenders."

Speaking at an event commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Doha agreement, President Bashir told the crowd in el-Fasher, North Darfur, that the the province was returning to normality.

We draw your attention to the Sudanese government's continuing abuses against civilians.
- Letter by NGOs

"We declare to all the people of Darfur and Sudan .. that we have implemented our commitments," he said at the event attended by Chad's President Idriss Deby and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

"Darfur is better today than yesterday. And tomorrow it will be even better."

Jehanne Henry, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, was sceptical about the claims.

"Contrary to Bashir's recent statement that peace has arrived in Darfur, the region is still experiencing widespread insecurity, fighting, and human rights abuses," Henry said.

"In some areas, especially around Jebal Mara, government forces continue to attack civilian areas, bombing farmland and villages and forcing people to flee."

The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest in 2009, for his alleged involvement in a genocide in Darfur in 2003.

According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there were more than 2.2 million civilians displaced in Sudan in September 2015.

The letter references United Nations' Mission in the Republic of South Sudan reports that South Sudan's military are seemingly "above the law" when they target civilian areas "through food deprivation, and [the] destruction of property".