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UN report urges Sudan to act over plight of displaced people in Darfur

A report by the UN Human Rights Office and the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has called on the Sudanese Government to pursue effective, transparent and durable policies to enable the 2.6 million people internally displaced by the long-running conflict in Darfur to return home voluntarily or to reintegrate into host communities.  

The report notes that, despite a ceasefire between the Government and various armed opposition groups which was largely held since June 2016, violence against internally displaced people (IDPs) continues to be widespread and impunity for human rights violations persists.  

“I urge the Government to address fundamental issues that are preventing the return of displaced people, such as continued violence, including from armed militias, which raise continuing and justifiable fears for their safety and the lack of basic services that leave them dependent on aid,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

The report details the situation of IDPs from January 2014 to December 2016, a period largely marked by the Government military campaign “decisive summer” that led to mass civilian displacement. The report says there are reasonable grounds to believe that the military operations resulted in serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.  

With the unilateral ceasefires by the Government and most armed opposition movements in place since June 2016, there has been significantly less conflict-related displacement in Darfur during the first 10 months of 2017 than during the same period in previous years.

However, the inadequate presence and, in some cases, outright absence of law enforcement and judicial institutions in areas where IDPs have settled has led to serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, the report states.

Tensions between ethnic groups, frequently over land, continued to surface, often erupting in violence and triggering further displacement. The report says that while State governments, native administrations and traditional leaders have made considerable efforts to prevent and respond to such violence, the underlying causes of such conflict, remain unaddressed.

The vulnerability of displaced people within IDP camps remains a concern, the report says. In the majority of the 66 camps across Darfur, UNAMID continued to document cases of random shootings at night, acts of criminality and harassment of displaced persons and sexual violence, including rape, within and around IDP camps and farmlands. Victims cited the absence of police stations, lack of confidence in the authorities, social stigma and fear of reprisals as reasons for not reporting the attacks.  

The report calls on the Government to carry out a prompt and comprehensive disarmament of armed militias to create an enabling and safe environment for IDPs to return, and also emphasises the need for extensive consultations with IDPs to ensure that their return and reintegration are carried out in full respect of their rights.

“The cessation of hostilities has provided the opportunity to focus on the situation of IDPs, which is so crucial to achieving peace. I urge the Government of Sudan to implement key elements set out in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and renew my call to all parties to fully engage in efforts to bring lasting peace to Darfur,” said UNAMID Joint Special Representative Jeremiah Mamabolo.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Distribution channels: Human Rights, Law, World & Regional