Sudan: Peace Agreement Must Include Darfur
A recent Amnesty International mission to the Sudan-Chad border region found that villages in Darfur have been bombed by government planes and during 2003 militia groups supported by the government have been attacking rural areas and have killed hundreds of civilians.
Amnesty International UK Media Director Lesley Warner said: 'While the prospects for lasting peace in Khartoum and the south are good, in Darfur civilians are threatened by government forces, militias and armed opposition groups.'
The Sudanese government and the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) told Colin Poweell earlier this year that a peace agreement would be reached by the end of 2003. For the last ten months of the ceasefire most civilians in the south and border regions have been able to live in peace, albeit fragile.
In Darfur however more than 600,000 people have fled the countryside since April to safety in towns. Tens of thousands have taken refuge in Chad. They live in dire humanitarian conditions, with little or no access to food or water, shelter or healthcare.
Darfur in western Sudan is not included in the peace negotiations to end the civil war mostly fought in southern Sudan and areas between north and south. On 16 December separate talks in Chad between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), one of the armed groups opposing the government in Darfur, broke down.
Amnesty International is calling for:
- human rights safeguards to be put at the heart of any peace agreement
- any ceasefire to be monitored by a force which can report on human rights abuses
- a national human rights commission to be set up with guaranteed independence and impartiality which can investigate abuses, question government officials and the security services and protect witnesses