Worldwide mobilisation of thousands calls for UN peacekeepers to be sent to Darfur now

Events in 32 countries: Massive show of global solidarity from Australia to Zambia

Hundreds of thousands of people will today hold a global Day for Darfur and call for UN peacekeepers to be sent to the west Sudanese region of Darfur to protect civilians from human rights abuses as soon as possible.

Special events all over the world range from candlelit vigils to massive rallies. In Britain there will be a demonstration outside the Sudanese embassy in London (details below) and an interfaith vigil outside at Downing Street.

Despite a UN resolution last month deciding on the deployment of UN peacekeepers to Darfur, the Sudanese government continues to refuse such a deployment and has launched a new offensive in the region. At least 650,000 people are now being denied aid and thousands of newly displaced civilians are running from the attacks.

A 24-year-old woman from Darfur who is living in a refugee camp in eastern Chad told Amnesty International about the insecurity and violence faced by Darfuri people living in displaced peoples’ camps within Darfur where African Union force protection is inadequate:

“The Janjawid attack the outskirts of the camp, killing men, raping Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and stealing goods. They use camels and are in khaki uniforms. Shortly before I left the Habila camp [in Darfur] I was told, along with other Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights: ‘If you leave the camp we will kill you.’ The Janjawid are at the camp entrance and the army is inside. The Janjawid sometimes come into the camp. The security situation has worsened over the last two years. Those who can afford to leave the camp do so.”

The human rights crisis in Darfur has worsened considerably since a peace agreement was signed in May this year. The minimal African Union force which is currently in the region is unable to guarantee civilians’ security. More than 300,000 people have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict, more than two million people have been displaced, and Amnesty International has documented the bombing of villages and killings of civilians in the last few weeks.

The Sudanese government has recently begun a military offensive in North Darfur. Eyewitnesses have told Amnesty International that troops and military equipment are arriving on a daily basis. Displaced people in Darfur are terrified that the same government soldiers who expelled them from their homes in the first place are being sent supposedly to protect them.

Actor Don Cheadle, who starred in the Oscar-winning film Hotel Rwanda, about the Rwandan genocide, said:

“Today in Darfur, Sudan, widespread atrocities based on prejudice, hate and injustice are taking place out of the public eye. Take action now.”

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“There was a spotlight on Darfur in 2004 and 2005 but, as has happened before, the world’s attention fell away while human rights violations continued and ordinary people were raped, killed and forced to leave their homes. The mass action today will tell world leaders that hundreds of thousands of us find this unacceptable and that pressure must be put on Sudan to allow UN peacekeepers in immediately.”

The Day for Darfur in the UK, Sunday 17 Sept:

  • 11am: protest outside the Sudanese embassy, Cleveland Row, SW1
  • 12.30pm: interfaith vigil outside Downing Street, attended by high profile religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths
  • 1-6pm, launch of new exhibition on Darfur at the Old Vic theatre (Pit Bar) (contact Aegis Trust, 01623 836 627)

Photos and further testimonies from witnesses to and survivors of attacks in Darfur are available from Amnesty’s press office.

Survivors of the Holocaust and the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda will attend the demonstration in London. For more information about them and their availability please contact David Brown, media officer at Aegis Trust: 01623 836627, 07812 640873, david.brown@aegistrust.org

Find out more information on events taking place around the world at: www.dayfordarfur.org br />

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