Sudan: Government 'in denial' to blame for refugee crisis

The organisation was highly critical of the Sudanese government which it says is ultimately responsible for human rights atrocities committed in Darfur.

It also called on the international community to translate its concern about the devastation in Darfur into concrete actions by ensuring that protection and pledges of support for the displaced population become a reality.

Refugees along the border have been targeted by the Janjawid and bombed by the government of Sudan air force. As a result the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has established a number of camps further away from the border area.

The UNHCR has opened eight camps that are currently reportedly occupied by 90,000 people. Conditions in the camps are poor and an estimated 40,000 people are still living in desperate conditions outside the camps.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The Sudanese government is ultimately responsible for the displacement of more than one million civilians. It is responsible for the burning of villages, killing of civilians, rape, widespread looting and systematic destruction of livelihoods carried out by government-supported Janjawid militias, helped at every stage by the Sudanese army and air force.

“Yet this same government is still hindering access of vehicles, medical supplies and even food, while in numerous public statements it continues to deny the seriousness of the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

“World Refugee Day is an opportunity for the international community to show solidarity with those countries which cannot cope with the burden of a large-scale refugee crisis on their own. When solidarity fails, or when it arrives too late, we have learned that the cost in human life and suffering can be enormous. This is what is at stake in Darfur.”

Chad is currently providing safe haven for some 130,000 refugees from the conflict in Darfur.

Many refugees have arrived in Chad traumatised by the events they have survived and witnessed. Many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have been raped in Darfur by the Janjawid and are suffering the after effects of their experiences, such as sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, psychological trauma and social stigmatisation.

The hundreds of thousands of civilians inside Darfur who have been driven from their homes but remain within Sudan’s borders, are in an extremely precarious situation.

Amnesty International continues to receive reports of harassment and human rights abuses by the Janjawid against displaced people in the camps inside Sudan where they had thought they would find safety.

Many refugees arrived in Chad only with the clothes they had fled in. The shelters they are able to build from fabrics or from sticks are poor protection against the extreme weather conditions in the region. There are serious sanitation problems, caused by lack of toilet facilities or places to wash.

Kate Allen said:

“As the rainy season sets in, it is imperative that the displaced populations on both sides of the Chad/Sudan border get the protection and assistance they need as the rains will make access to refugee camps virtually impossible until October.

'When camps and settlements become even more inaccessible to international humanitarian agencies there is a risk that large members of vulnerable groups such as Children's rights and the elderly will die.”

Background

There are around 12 million refugees and asylum-seekers in the world today. Most of them, around 75%, are in the developing world.

Millions are displaced as a result of conflict and widespread human rights violations in West and Central Africa, and in places such as Colombia, Russia and South Asia. Palestinians still constitute the largest group of refugees today.

In addition to the people who have sought refuge outside their own country, there are an estimated 23 million internally displaced persons in the world.

Although they should enjoy the same rights as any other national of their country, in many cases their government cannot or will not protect them. Sudan has the highest number of internally displaced persons of all the countries in the world.

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