Peer attacks UNís 'impotence' and 'collusion' over Darfur
A well known Christian and member of the House of Lords has attacked the failure of a UN commission to call the mass killings in the Western Darfur region 'genocide' and suggested that securing access to the oil fields in the south 'seem to matter more to the international community than preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians'.
A new UN report has concluded that the Sudanese government and militias carried out mass killings and probably war crimes in the western Darfur region, but it stopped short of calling the violence genocide.
The UN commission recommended that the International Criminal Court investigate evidence of widespread abuses including torture, rape, killings of civilians and pillaging.
However, independent Peer Lord Alton of Liverpool who recently visited Darfur and has been campaigning for months to have the killings acknowledged as genocide told the Ekklesia news service; "In another resounding example of the UNís impotence they have decided not to risk offending the perpetrators of these atrocities or their belligerent allies."
"The long awaited UN commission on events in Darfur has, in effect, given the government of Sudan permission to continue killing its black African population with impunity. Their report will give encouragement to despotic governments the world over."
"Even though the government of Sudan bombed villages in Darfur as recently as Wednesday January 26th, and despite an increase in violence in Darfur, stopping aid agencies reaching many refugees, the commission does not recommend sanctions against the military dictatorship in Khartoum.
"This is worse than impotent, it amounts to collusion."
"Although the report is a disappointment" he continued, "it is not a surprise".
"Diplomats have repeatedly shown themselves unwilling to criticize the Khartoum regime for fear of jeopardizing the ongoing north-south peace deal."
The United Nations has called Darfur the worldís worst humanitarian crisis, saying that some 70,000 of the nearly two million people displaced by the conflict have died from disease and famine. Thousands more were killed in the fighting, though no firm figures exist.
The report detailed a host of violations, including the Sudanese governmentís failure to protect civilians from rebel attack, use of disproportionate force and attacks meant to force people to flee their homes.
It blamed the government for joining in the attacks and for complicity with the Arab militias, and also accused rebels of massive violence.
ìThere was no military necessity for the destruction and devastation caused. The targets of destruction during the attacks under discussion were exclusively civilian objects,î the panel said.
While the commission was clearly reluctant to pronounce a verdict on the violence, it said many of the worst attacks îmay amount to crimes against humanity.î
ìThe conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the government authorities, directly or through the militias under their control, should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes perpetrated in the region,î the report said.
The commission said the Sudanese government had not pursued a policy of genocide because there was no îgenocidal intentî ñ a push to exterminate an entire group for ethnic, religious or other reasons.
However Lord Alton said; "During my recent visit to Sudan and Darfur I became convinced that securing access to the oil fields in the south seemed to matter more to the international community than preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and the displacement of two million people."
"A key member of the UNís Security Council, China, owns the lionís share of Sudanís oil industry."