Churches and NGOs rally for Darfur as crisis deepens

By staff writers
April 29, 2006

Churches and NGOs rally for Darfur as crisis deepens

-29/04/06

As Christians, Muslims, Jews and secular humanitarian groups prepare to gather in the US capital on Sunday to press for more concerted action over the Darfur crisis, a panel of United Nations experts has advised the UN Security Council to expand an existing arms embargo to stem the flow of weapons that continue to flood the strife-torn western Sudanese region.

Meanwhile the UN relief agency says it has had to cut back on food aid to refugees because of lack of financial support from the international community.

Some 160 religious, human rights and humanitarian organisations have joined together in a coalition to highlight the continuing plight of people in Darfur, Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of people have died in what some claim is genocide.

The United Nations' chief humanitarian coordinator, Jan Egeland, declared at the beginning of April that the situation in Darfur ìis changing dramatically for the worseî once again, and that African Union is inadequately equipped to cope with the situation.

The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on all non-government forces in Darfur in July 2004 and expanded the embargo to include government forces in March 2005.

However, stricter measures are urgently needed to bring an end to the region's three-year civil war, said the panel, which was set up to help the committee monitoring the arms embargo.

"The panel concludes that the government of the Sudan continues to violate the arms embargo by transferring equipment and related weapons into Darfur; supplying some militia groups with arms and ammunition; and providing support to militia groups in their attacks against villages and rebel groups," the experts said in their report, according to Reuters.

The Sudanese government maintained they were compelled to transfer weapons and additional troops to Darfur in response to the rising tensions between Sudan and Chad.

The panel found that the government of Sudan had failed to take appropriate steps to disarm Janjaweed militia groups in areas under its control, as it was required to do under a resolution adopted by the Council in July 2004.

In addition, irregular armed groups continued to conduct military operations alongside Sudanese forces. "The panel has found conclusive evidence of operational coordination between elements of the Sudanese armed forces and militia groups associated with tribes that support the government," the report said.

Although the panel accused both the Sudanese government and the rebels of exacerbating ethnic tensions, it blamed the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) in particular for exploiting ethnic differences to increase its support base.

"No effective ceasefire exists between the parties in Darfur at the present time," the report said. "The absence of strong and decisive sanction measures for violations of the ceasefire ... has contributed to the ongoing violations, as parties act with relative impunity."

The report recommended expanding the arms embargo to all of Sudan - with certain exemptions for non-lethal supplies - and to establish stronger verification mechanisms. The panel also proposed establishing a no-fly zone over the entire Darfur region for all government aircraft. Members of the senior leadership of the SLA and the Sudanese government should be designated for targeted financial and travel-related sanctions, the experts said.

On Tuesday, the Council imposed sanctions on the former commander of the western military region for the Sudanese Air Force; an SLA commander; a field commander of another rebel faction, the National Movement for Reform and Development; and a leader of the Janjaweed militia.

Human rights observers claimed, however, that the sanctions failed to target the masterminds of the atrocities that have occurred in the region during the three-year civil war.

In the US a major demonstration will take place on 30 April 2006 under the slogan, ìRally to Stop Genocideî. It will gather between 2-4pm on the National Mall, between Third and Fourth streets in front of the US Capitol Metro Station Federal Centre SW.

Speakers will include Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Paul Rusesabagina, who risked his life to save more than 1,000 people at the hotel he managed during the genocide in Rwanda. Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders will also address the rally.

The US-based Darfur Coalition is comprised of the American Jewish World Service, the American Society for Muslim Advancement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, Amnesty International, the United States Holocaust Museum, the National Black Church Initiative and a number of regional and local organizations.

[Also on Ekklesia: Faith and humanitarian coalition pushes for end to Darfur crisis 18/04/06; UN warns of worsening situation in Darfur; Churches seek to respond to Darfur attacks; Darfur development workers kidnapped as situation worsens; Agencies and churches urge UN action on Darfur; Christian aid agencies unite for Sudan; US church aid agency chief backs action on Darfur; Captors release Darfur emergency workers; Christian agencies welcome Sudan peace but warn over Darfur; Churches urge Sudan government to end hostilities; Christian aid partners address UN over Sudan]

Churches and NGOs rally for Darfur as crisis deepens

-29/04/06

As Christians, Muslims, Jews and secular humanitarian groups prepare to gather in the US capital on Sunday to press for more concerted action over the Darfur crisis, a panel of United Nations experts has advised the UN Security Council to expand an existing arms embargo to stem the flow of weapons that continue to flood the strife-torn western Sudanese region.

Meanwhile the UN relief agency says it has had to cut back on food aid to refugees because of lack of financial support from the international community.

Some 160 religious, human rights and humanitarian organisations have joined together in a coalition to highlight the continuing plight of people in Darfur, Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of people have died in what some claim is genocide.

The United Nations' chief humanitarian coordinator, Jan Egeland, declared at the beginning of April that the situation in Darfur ìis changing dramatically for the worseî once again, and that African Union is inadequately equipped to cope with the situation.

The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on all non-government forces in Darfur in July 2004 and expanded the embargo to include government forces in March 2005.

However, stricter measures are urgently needed to bring an end to the region's three-year civil war, said the panel, which was set up to help the committee monitoring the arms embargo.

"The panel concludes that the government of the Sudan continues to violate the arms embargo by transferring equipment and related weapons into Darfur; supplying some militia groups with arms and ammunition; and providing support to militia groups in their attacks against villages and rebel groups," the experts said in their report, according to Reuters.

The Sudanese government maintained they were compelled to transfer weapons and additional troops to Darfur in response to the rising tensions between Sudan and Chad.

The panel found that the government of Sudan had failed to take appropriate steps to disarm Janjaweed militia groups in areas under its control, as it was required to do under a resolution adopted by the Council in July 2004.

In addition, irregular armed groups continued to conduct military operations alongside Sudanese forces. "The panel has found conclusive evidence of operational coordination between elements of the Sudanese armed forces and militia groups associated with tribes that support the government," the report said.

Although the panel accused both the Sudanese government and the rebels of exacerbating ethnic tensions, it blamed the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) in particular for exploiting ethnic differences to increase its support base.

"No effective ceasefire exists between the parties in Darfur at the present time," the report said. "The absence of strong and decisive sanction measures for violations of the ceasefire ... has contributed to the ongoing violations, as parties act with relative impunity."

The report recommended expanding the arms embargo to all of Sudan - with certain exemptions for non-lethal supplies - and to establish stronger verification mechanisms. The panel also proposed establishing a no-fly zone over the entire Darfur region for all government aircraft. Members of the senior leadership of the SLA and the Sudanese government should be designated for targeted financial and travel-related sanctions, the experts said.

On Tuesday, the Council imposed sanctions on the former commander of the western military region for the Sudanese Air Force; an SLA commander; a field commander of another rebel faction, the National Movement for Reform and Development; and a leader of the Janjaweed militia.

Human rights observers claimed, however, that the sanctions failed to target the masterminds of the atrocities that have occurred in the region during the three-year civil war.

In the US a major demonstration will take place on 30 April 2006 under the slogan, ìRally to Stop Genocideî. It will gather between 2-4pm on the National Mall, between Third and Fourth streets in front of the US Capitol Metro Station Federal Centre SW.

Speakers will include Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Paul Rusesabagina, who risked his life to save more than 1,000 people at the hotel he managed during the genocide in Rwanda. Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders will also address the rally.

The US-based Darfur Coalition is comprised of the American Jewish World Service, the American Society for Muslim Advancement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, Amnesty International, the United States Holocaust Museum, the National Black Church Initiative and a number of regional and local organizations.

[Also on Ekklesia: Faith and humanitarian coalition pushes for end to Darfur crisis 18/04/06; UN warns of worsening situation in Darfur; Churches seek to respond to Darfur attacks; Darfur development workers kidnapped as situation worsens; Agencies and churches urge UN action on Darfur; Christian aid agencies unite for Sudan; US church aid agency chief backs action on Darfur; Captors release Darfur emergency workers; Christian agencies welcome Sudan peace but warn over Darfur; Churches urge Sudan government to end hostilities; Christian aid partners address UN over Sudan]

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