October 5, 2007

‘UN actions on Darfur ‘genocide’ too little, too late’


The killings and violence that have engulfed the Sudanese region of Darfur for the past four years constitute genocide, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves told the General Assembly last week, calling the planned hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force insufficient and too late.{{more}}

Dr Gonsalves told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that the actions of the UN in recent years “have caused the world to wonder about the relative worth of a Sudanese or Rwandan life, versus an Israeli, Chinese, American or European life.”

He accused the UN of showing “heartless neglect, in practical terms, of the genocidal campaign being waged in Darfur.”

More than 200,000 people have been killed across Darfur, and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes, since rebels began fighting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia in 2003.

Dr Gonsalves said today that “what is happening in Darfur is genocide – let us call it what it is. The United Nations must remain committed to alleviating the suffering of the men, women and children of Darfur.”

A commission of inquiry appointed by the UN found in early 2005 that the Sudanese Government had not pursued a policy of genocide, but that its forces and the Janjaweed had “conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement.”

The commission also found credible evidence that rebel forces were responsible for possible war crimes, including murder of civilians and pillage.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for two suspects: Ahmad Muhammad Harun, who is currently Sudan’s Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (also known as Ali Kushayb). But Sudan has not moved to arrest the two men, who are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Dr. Gonsalves said recent developments, particularly the authorization of the hybrid peacekeeping force (to be known as UNAMID), and the appointment of its civilian and military leaders, were “somewhat encouraging, let us not delude ourselves: the force on the ground is still insufficient, its mandate ambiguous, and its emerging presence is years too late.”

At full deployment UNAMID will have about 26,000 troops and civilian police officers and some 5,000 civilian staff.

The mission is tasked with acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to support the “early and effective implementation” of last year’s Darfur Peace Agreement between the Government and the rebels, and it is also mandated to protect civilians, prevent armed attacks and ensure the security of aid workers and its own personnel and facilities. (UN)