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August 26, 2008 - 9:08 PM    Peacekeepers slam Sudan for "excessive" Darfur raid
By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - International peacekeepers criticised Sudan on Tuesday for using "excessive, disproportionate" force in a raid on a camp for displaced persons in Darfur that left more than 30 dead.

The unusually harsh statement from the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeepers accused Khartoum of breaking a Darfur peace agreement by using guns against displaced people armed mostly with "sticks, knives, and spears".

Armed Sudanese police and soldiers raided South Darfur's Kalma camp in the early hours of Monday morning, claiming they were searching for weapons and suspected rebels and bandits.

Sudan state media published a statement from South Darfur state's Security Committee saying armed camp residents had started the shooting, and that police had been forced to fire back. The statement insisted only five police and seven residents had been injured in the clashes.

But Darfur rebel leaders and Kalma residents told Reuters the Sudanese forces opened fire on people in the camp, then continued to build up their forces around the settlement on Tuesday.

Kalma, home to 90,000 people forced out of their homes by fighting in west Sudan's desert Darfur region since rebellion broke out more than five years ago, has long been a flashpoint.

Sudanese authorities have launched a number of failed attempts to seize arms from the camp in the past, claiming rebels and bandits use it as a base.

Camp residents and Darfur rebels have accused the government of trying to clear the camp to force residents to return to their homes under a government resettlement plan.


UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni, said peacekeepers had so far helped residents bury the bodies of 31 people who died in the raid, and another two who died in hospital afterwards.

The UNAMID statement said it "strongly condemns the excessive, disproportionate use of lethal force by the GoS (Government of Sudan) security forces against civilians, which violated their human rights and resulted in unacceptable casualties".

It said Sudanese forces claimed armed groups inside the camp had opened fire first, using camp residents as a "human shield", and acknowledged the authorities were right to be concerned about the presence of weapons in Kalma.

But the statement added the "lethal force" used in the arms raid was still "a clear violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement" - the faltering deal signed between Khartoum and one rebel faction in 2006.

UNAMID officers at the scene had received unconfirmed reports that at total of 64 people had been killed and 117 wounded in the clash.

Aid group Médecins Sans Frontières said it managed to evacuate 49 people suffering from gunshot wounds to hospital in nearby Nyala.

Ahmed Abdel Shafie, leader of a rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)faction, said many other casualties were still in the camp.

He claimed government forces had blocked the road out of the camp. "There is no one going in or out. The situation is very bad with the rains, and food is running out. They are surrounding the camp."

Sudan's state SUNA news agency reported police "met with strong resistance from the instigated and mobilized displaced citizens who were incited to put barricades and to move in the streets."

The raid came at a highly sensitive time in Darfur after the International Criminal Court moved to indict President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide in the remote western region.

Darfur rebels, who back the ICC move, have accused Khartoum of carrying out a string of attacks and bombings in the region in an attempt to gain territory before negotiations with the new joint U.N.-African Union mediator for Darfur Djibril Bassole.

International experts say 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million driven from their homes by the fighting in Darfur. Khartoum puts the death count at 10,000.

(Editing by Richard

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O'Shea slams West's response to latest Darfur violence

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

 The head of the GOAL aid agency is again criticising the international community over its response to the latest reported atrocity against refugees in Darfur.

Up to 64 people were killed and scores more injured when Sudanese police and soldiers opened fire on the Kalma camp in western Darfur two days ago.

Many of the dead are reported to be women and children.

The Sudanese Government says its forces were responding to rebel gunfire from the camp, which houses around 80,000 people.

GOAL chief executive John O'Shea, who has been a strong critic of the West's approach to the Darfur crisis, says the international community needs to do more than simply express outrage.

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New UN-AU mediator for Darfur conflict assumes duty  2008-08-29 15:22:42      Print
    NAIROBI, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- The newly appointed chief of the joint United Nations-African Union effort to bring peace to Darfur has assumed duties in the conflict-wracked Sudanese region.

    A statement from the UNAMID received here Friday said Djibril Yipene Bassole, the Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, has pledged to consult as widely as possible with the warring parties to try to find a lasting solution.

    Bassolé assumed his duties in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state and the headquarters of the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (known as UNAMID).

    According to the UN news release, the chief mediator stressed that any negotiations to resolve the five-year conflict that has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million others cannot take place in a climate of tension and mistrust.

    "We have to put mechanisms in place that will not only allow a sustained ceasefire, but will also help avoid reoccurrence of violent incidents," he said.

    Bassole said his priority was to hold talks with all the players on the ground in Darfur, where the number of rebel groups has splintered in the past year or so from a handful to around 30.

    "The important phase for my assignment obviously is to get in touch with all the players on the ground so that I can absorb the realities on the ground, and to organize quite quickly a few work sessions so as to directly engage the issues," Bassole said.

    Rodolphe Adada, the head of UNAMID and the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the AU in the region, met with Bassole on Thursday and promised that the mission would do everything it could to back his peace efforts.

    Bassole is slated to visit South Darfur and West Darfur over the next four days before returning to Khartoum, the national capital.

    Commenting on the recent incident in Kalma camp in South Darfur, in which 32 people, among them women and children lost their lives, Bassole announced that measures would be put in place to mitigate such a sad episode.

    "One can not consider lightly any event which has caused such a tragic loss ... obviously everyone has his own share of responsibility," the JCM said.

    Bassole said he did wish that Internally Displaced People (IDP)camps remain safe and secure areas so that the kind of violence that just occurred doesn't happen again.

    JCM who said he understood the concerns of government and also those of the armed groups, stated however that "we have to sit around the table and find solutions that make everyone secure.

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Chad, Sudan to renew diplomatic ties, create peacekeeping force
11 hours ago

LIBREVILLE (AFP) — Sudan and Chad are to restore diplomatic relations, which broke off in May, mediators said Tuesday, paving the way to create a peacekeeping and security force on their common border.

The contact group, which comprises Gabon, Libya, Congo, Senegal, Eritrea, Chad and Sudan, issued a statement Tuesday confirming the breakthrough, five months after Khartoum severed ties accusing Ndjamena of backing rebels in its Darfur region.

"Fruitful exchanges have enabled the firm commitment of Chad and Sudan to formally restore diplomatic relations with the exchange of ambassadors before the contact group's sixth meeting in October in Ndjamena," it said.

The statement came after a contact group meeting on Friday to discuss the issue in the Eritrean capital Asmara.

The meeting also decided to finalise preparations for a security force of 1,000 Sudanese and 1,000 Chadian soldiers to protect observers who would monitor the border.

"The contact group is committed to deploying a peacekeeping and security force as soon as possible and open an operational command centre in Tripoli," the Libyan capital, the statement said.

The details on the organisation of the security forces still have to be "finalised", Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki told AFP on Tuesday.

"We will have to finalise all that," Faki said by telephone from Libreville. "The principle has been agreed. Chad supplies 1,000 men and Sudan supplies another 1,000."

But Faki ruled out further joint operations between Chad and Sudan, except those carried out under the control of EUFOR, the EU's peacekeeping mission which has a presence in central Africa.

Chadian rebels welcomed the agreement but threatened to take arms again if "a true peace process was not set in motion," rebel leader Abderaman Koulamallah told AFP.

"We reiterate our desire for a true peace process in Chad. If there is no peace process, there will be war," he said.

Sudan broke off diplomatic relations with Chad in May after Darfur rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) launched an attack near the capital Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Chad denied any involvement but relations between the two countries have long been difficult, with each country denying the other's accusations that they are supporting rebel movements fighting against their respective regimes.

"Sudan needs to sort out the problem of Darfur and stop trying to make itself believe that Chad is part of the problem," Faki said.

The two countries also broke off diplomatic relations in 2006 for four months after a rebel attack on Chad.

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Mbeki: ICC case against al-Bashir bad for Darfur
7 hours ago

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — South Africa's president said Tuesday the prosecution of his Sudanese counterpart for genocide in Darfur would undermine efforts to resolve the 5-year-old conflict there.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in July sought to charge Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for genocide in Darfur and asked the court for an arrest warrant. No decision has been issued.

Thabo Mbeki told reporters after his two-day trip to Khartoum that prosecuting al-Bashir would be counterproductive.

"This (prosecution) will not help to resolve the challenges that we are facing in the Sudan," Mbeki told reporters at a news conference with al-Bashir. "It could not make any positive contribution in that regard and therefore we are against it."

A statement by Mbeki later said the prosecution "could seriously undermine the ongoing efforts aimed at facilitating the early resolution of the conflict in Darfur and the promotion of long-lasting peace and reconciliation in the Sudan."

He added that it would only lead to further suffering for the Sudanese and would destabilize the region.

South Africa and Libya, backed by veto-wielding Russia and China, have pushed for a U.N. Security council resolution to hold off for a year any efforts to prosecute al-Bashir. Critics say freezing the prosecution would embolden the government.

Up to 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million people displaced since the conflict erupted in 2003 between ethnic African rebels and the Arab-dominated government and its militia. The rebels complained of discrimination and neglect for their far-flung western region.

Efforts to reach a peace deal have resulted in a largely ignored treaty and cease-fire, while the conflict became more intractable and complex.

Another two-decade-old conflict between the north and south only ended in 2005 with a power sharing deal.

Mbeki said his country and the regional African Union will work to persuade opponents that the prosecution is counterproductive.

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ICC prosecutor to hold talks on Darfur case

The Associated PressPublished: September 22, 2008

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is traveling to the United Nations to urge world leaders not to freeze his Darfur genocide case against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan is sending a delegation to this week's General Assembly to lobby for the case to be suspended. The African Union also wants the case to be put on ice.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo alleges al-Bashir is behind attempts to wipe out members of three African tribes in Sudan's western Darfur province.

He says his request for the world's first permanent war crimes court to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir is a challenge to the international community.

In a statement Monday, Moreno-Ocampo said world leaders "have to protect the victims."

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SHRO condemns attacks in North Darfur, urges government to respect UN staff

Tuesday 23 September 2008 00:35.

September 20, 2008 — The Sudan Human Rights Organization – Cairo is deeply concerned over military attacks recently launched by the government troops and militias on a number of villages in North Darfur: The government forces attacked al-Tawila village twice between August 6 and 8, leaving behind scores of murdered citizens and other serious casualties. In the meantime, the army air force launched harsher attacks on the villages of Teeri, al-‘Ardibat, a-Ushara, Dobo, Ardeem, Um-Mihairik, Mangeeria, Katour, Deesa, and Beer Mazza.

The Organization condemns in the strongest terms possible the attack launched on August 25th by the security and police forces on the Kalma camp east of Niyala, of which tens of the displaced people were massacred, including children, women, and elderly citizens. The transgressing forces placed Kalma and the surrounding camps under siege, as a part of State plans to force the displaced citizens to abandon the camps. These unlawful acts constituted gross violation of the international humanitarian law to which Sudan is obligated as a State Party, especially Article 3 of the Geneva Protocols.

SHRO-Cairo is gravely concerned for the continuous escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the dehumanizing policies of the Government of Sudan against the powerless women, children, and elderly citizens in the camps. To improve this situation, we strongly urge the government to cooperate closely with all UN staff in the country, especially the UN Special Rapporteur Sima Samar.

We call on the government and all warring groups to honour the cease fire most recently arranged in the holy month of Ramadan.

We call on the UNAMID to play an active role in the protection and safety of the displaced people, as a part of its mandate. In this regard, the governmen should facilitate all UN activities.

We urge all parties to expedite the effort to bring about a political settlement for the crisis in Darfur. The regional and international parties are strongly urged to exert the strongest pressure possible on the warring groups to end the ongoing war by an All-Sudanese conference under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union.

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...more arrests on the way...

Reported detention of Darfur crimes suspect welcome: UN
8 hours ago

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — Reports that Sudan has detained militia leader Ali Kosheib for crimes in Darfur are a "welcome step" toward ending impunity in the war-torn region, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said Wednesday.

"If confirmed, this is a welcome step towards the vital need to end impunity and bring to justice those responsible for crimes in Darfur," she told a press briefing.

She said UN chief Ban Ki-moon had taken note of the reported development.

Tuesday, Idris Suleiman, deputy head of Sudan's mission in Cairo, said that Kosheib, the Khartoum-backed Janjaweed militia leader, would be brought to court in Darfur at a date set by a judge, "likely in the next week."

Suleiman said Kosheib has been in custody for months, and that the probe accelerated after the justice ministry appointed a special prosecutor in August and access to witnesses became easier.

Thirteen cases of crimes in Darfur are being investigated, he said, although he declined to say how many suspects were involved.

The International Criminal Court, whose chief prosecutor is asking for a warrant for Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir, issued a warrant for Kosheib in 2007 for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The court said Kosheib enlisted, armed, funded and supplied the Janjaweed militia and "personally participated in some of the attacks against civilians."

The ICC also issued a warrant for Sudanese cabinet minister Ahmed Harun, but Suleiman said there had been no investigation of Harun in Sudan.