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Sudan defies arms embargo

AN-12 (ST-ASA) unloading goods at the military apron of El Geneina airport. © AI/IPSIS

I was pleased that amid the understandable furore over shootings in the UK, the media has also widely reported Amnesty’s revelation that the Sudanese government is continuing to deploy offensive military equipment in Darfur. This despite the UN arms embargo and peace agreements.

Amnesty has released photographs taken by eyewitnesses in Darfur.

Like anyone who has followed the appalling events taking place in Darfur and neighbouring countries, where over 300,000 people are believed to have lost their lives since 2003, more than two million civilians have fled their homes and thousands of women have been raped, I was relieved when the UN last month passed a resolution to send a newly strengthened peacekeeping force to Sudan.

But the resolution failed to provide peacekeepers in the African Union-United Nations force with the mandate to disarm or demobilise government-backed Janjawid militia and armed opposition groups.

If peacekeepers are not given this power and the arms embargo is not rigorously enforced, the appalling suffering of ordinary people will continue. People like those who came under fire in Gawaya village as they gathered to mourn those killed in an earlier attack. Sixty eight people died in this incident alone.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is another African nation where civilians have suffered, and continue to suffer, the horrifying consequences of armed conflict. When BBC reporter Mike Thompson interviewed Zawadi, a young mother in Congo who had been abducted, raped and forced to kill her own baby, listeners to the Radio 4’s Today programme were moved.

Among them was a leading jazz musician in Norway, Bugge Wesseltoft, who is dedicating a song on his coming album to her and donating lyric royalties to the woman from Bukavu in Eastern Congo. She finally escaped her Rwandan Hutu abductors after witnessing the murder of 50 of her friends and family.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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