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HRW calls to ensure human rights monitoring in Darfur

UNAMID peacekeepers on patrol in Sortony, North Darfur on 10 Nov 2016 (UNAMID Photo)
June 19, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - Ahead of major decisions to further downsize the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the UN Security Council to ensure that human rights monitoring is ensured in the whole region.

On 11 June, the Security Council was briefed on a report on the UNAMID strategic review providing to close the remaining 14 protection sites in Darfur and to concentrate its activities in the Greater Jebel Marra which will host also the operation headquarters, until its definitive closure in 2020.

This decision is based on the end of violence in the region, except in some parts of the mountainous area of Jebel Marra, and the deployment of the government troops in the region. However, reports from the region point to persisting disputes over land ownership as the returnees find their villages inhabited by other groups.

“The UN’s proposed cuts would effectively end the peacekeeping mission’s core human rights and protection role in most of Darfur, which would be a mistake,” said Mausi Segun, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“The Security Council needs to ensure that UNAMID will continue monitoring and reporting publicly on abuses throughout Darfur or it will share responsibility for pushing Darfur off the world’s agenda,” he further stressed.

In a regular report to the 15-member body on 1 June, the UN Secretary-General admitted that the reconfiguration “would no longer allow UNAMID to continue the monitoring, verification and reporting of protection of civilians’ issues outside the greater Jebel Marra area”.

The African Union Commission’s special report proposes that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights opens an office in Sudan.

However, HRW said “The Sudanese government’s long practice of intransigence and obstruction leaves little hope that the office would be able to fill the vacuum left by UNAMID”.

Also, the human rights group recalled that the UN special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict last February raised concerns about continued reports of sexual violence against displaced women and girls in Darfur.
For his part, the UN independent expert on human rights in Sudan last April said that government security forces committed sexual violence against women and girls in the western Sudan region.

“Everything we know about Darfur indicates a pressing need for human rights monitors to continue their work (…),” said Segun before to emphasize that “The Security Council shouldn’t adopt this shortsighted proposal, but instead should keep a spotlight on Darfur.”

The Security Council will finalize its discussions on the UNAMID downsize and the adoption of a new resolution extending its mandate for another year on 28 June.

(ST)