ME and Ophelia

Monday, August 09, 2004

Overwhelming evidence of crimes against humanity

A top U.N. human rights investigator released a scathing report Friday that blames the government of Sudan for atrocities against its civilians in the Darfur region. The United Nations investigator on executions has blamed Sudan's government for extra-judicial killings in the western region of Darfur.

Today, the EU report no genocide in Darfur but large-scale killings. The UN investigator said the killings amounted to crimes against humanity. "It is beyond doubt that the Government of the Sudan is responsible for extrajudicial and summary executions of large numbers of people over the last several months in the Darfur region, as well as in the Shilook Kingdom in Upper Nile State," said Jahangir, in the report based on a 13-day visit to the region in June.

"The current humanitarian disaster unfolding in Darfur, for which the government is largely responsible, has put millions of civilians at risk, and it is very likely that many will die in the months to come as a result of starvation and disease," she said.

Jahangir said there was "overwhelming evidence" that the killing was conducted "in a coordinated manner by the armed forces of the government and government-backed militias. They appear to be carried out in a systematic manner."

The scale of violations means they "could constitute crimes against humanity for which the government of the Sudan must bear responsibility," she said.

"I remain seriously concerned at the very slow and negligent reaction of the government towards the situation unfolding in Darfur," Jahangir said. "Such a reaction despite the huge international outcry would appear to indicate either complete disrespect for the right to life of the population of Darfur, or, at worst, complicity in the events."
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Further reading:

Aug 5: BBC report "Analysis: Reining in the militia"
[Note: Google's definition of Mujahideen = a military force of Muslim guerilla warriors engaged in a jihad; some call the mujahidin international warriors but others just call them terrorists]

Aug 9: International Medical Corps (IMC) has a rapid response team in Darfur, and is coordinating with the UN and other agencies to meet the most immediate and basic human needs, such as food, shelter, clean water, sanitation and health care.

The gaps in coverage are tremendous. Of the one million displaced persons and 200,000 residents of host communities in Darfur, it is estimated that nearly half had not received food assistance, non-food items or shelter materials as of July 1; 62% had no access to clean water; 87% lived in areas without proper sanitation; and 63% lacked access to primary health care. In addition, 80% of children under five had no access to treatment for malnutrition.

Beyond the staggering number of people in need of assistance, accessibility is a major issue. Sudan is roughly one quarter the size of the United States, yet it has just one one-thousandth the miles of paved highways. As of July 1, the displaced were scattered across more than 80 makeshift camps in an area approximately the size of France, wide stretches of which are either partially or totally inaccessible during the June to September rainy season. As a result, delivering supplies often requires using airplanes, devouring funds that would otherwise be used to staff clinics or purchase medicines.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/09/2004
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