Sudanese forces 'harassed and brutually treated' refugees

Sudanese military harassed and brutally treated the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Darfur region, in contravention of agreements made to the UN and US, it has been confirmed.

A UN spokesman reported yesterday that refugees living at the Kalma camp in the strife-torn southern Darfur region were attacked and their camp looted during an incident which occurred on August 12.

Briefing journalists in New York, Fred Eckhard said that African Union (AU) monitors confirmed the reports in an investigating of the incident.

The violence began when IDPs at Kalma attacked Arab IDPs from a neighbouring camp, accusing them of taking part in ethnically motivated attacks against their families. An Arab IDP who worked for the non-governmental organization (NGO) CARE-International was killed.

However, the Sudanese military intervened and aid workers were not allowed into the Kalma camp for three days – halting the distribution of relief items to thousands of people. Humanitarian access has since resumed.

According to UN resolution 1556, adopted on July 30: "… the government of Sudan bears the primary responsibility to respect human rights while maintaining law and order and protecting its population within its territory and that all parties are obliged to respect international humanitarian law…"

AU monitors are in place in Darfur as a response to more than a year of violent civil strife that has led to what is widely viewed as currently the world's worst humanitarian crisis. More than 1.2 million people live as IDPs and another 200,000 as refugees in Chad because of attacks by Janjaweed militias and fighting between Sudanese forces and two rebel groups.

Meanwhile, the body charged with making sure that Khartoum meets its commitments to restore security to Darfur and disarm the Janjaweed militias held its fourth meeting last night.

The Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM), which is co-chaired by Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, discussed what progress had been made so far by Khartoum. JIM is comprised of Sudanese and UN officials.

In South Darfur, about 6,000 IDPs living in Yara have told UN officials that their village is more secure following the deployment of 94 policemen to the area. Installing extra police in unstable areas was one of the pledges made by the Sudanese authorities.

In a separate development, delegates from the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) - which have been fighting a 21-year civil war in the country's south - are expected to attend a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, next week about landmines.

The proliferation of landmines in the south of Sudan, Africa's largest country, is one of the issues facing Khartoum and the SPLM as they hold peace talks this year that are expected to finally resolve their conflict.


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