Violence in Darfur: NPWJ calls on the UN and Sudanese authorities to ensure protection of civilians and accountability for atrocities

25 Jan, 2021 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 25 January 2020

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) strongly condemns the renewed violent attacks against civilians in Darfur whose vulnerability and exposure to atrocities has been increased further to the recent termination of the mandate of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and its withdrawal, decided by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 22 December 2020. The new UN political mission, UNITAMS, is tasked to support Sudan’s political transition, but has no mandate to provide reliable physical protection for civilians and is still not fully operational.

The bloody scenarios recently witnessed, which are all too familiar to Darfurians, led to over 220 deaths and the displacement of nearly 50,000 people. It is inaccurate and disingenuous to describe these events solely as “communal inter-tribal violence’’. The victims are Afro-Black civilians, composed primarily of farmers and other villagers, sedentary residents, targeted traditionally by the Arab herders/pastoralists, whose Janjaweed militia and other allied paramilitaries have been the foot soldiers of the genocide since it began in 2003.

Following a peace agreement negotiated in October last year, the former rebels and genocidaires, the Janjaweed, have incorporated the official and regular national army, now renamed as “Rapid Support Forces”. It is highly questionable how the Sudanese Government can pretend to protect the population not only in Darfur but in the whole country by deploying forces with such a long documented track record of serious abuses and violations of international law. As highlighted by the violent repression of pro-democracy demonstrations last year, as well as the numerous testimonials of recent victims, the pattern of ongoing brutality recalls the worst hours of the previous dictatorial regime, ranging from arbitrary summary executions to raiding and pillaging, rape and torture of civilians.

Against this dramatic background, which is likely to escalate and repeat itself in the future given the security vacuum, NPWJ calls on the UN Security Council to consider either a temporary reauthorisation of UNAMID’s deployment or to strengthen the mandate and capabilities of the follow-up mission UNITAMS to ensure reliable protection of Darfur’s communities. The international community cannot simply walk away, ignore the calls of Darfurians for real protection and respect of their human rights and abandon them to another tragic fate.

Crucially, the UNSC and other concerned governments and international actors including the European Union should press the Sudanese Government to ensure accountability for the renewed crimes and abuses committed against Darfurians by investigating who bears responsibility and holding them to account. Rewarding those responsible for atrocities with political and military power and impunity is not an option to ensure credibility and legitimacy of the current transition in Sudan and ground it on democratic principles and respect of the rule of law.