New York, NY; June 4, 2008 – American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has written United States (U.S.) Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.). Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging them to take advantage of key opportunities to dramatically strengthen efforts to bring peace to Sudan and Chad. The U.S. will chair the U.N. Security Council for the month of June. Moreover, members of the Security Council, during a 10-day mission to Africa that began June 1, will make stops in Khartoum, North Darfur, refugee camps along the Sudan-Chad border and the Chadian capital, N’Djamena.
Writing to Khalilzad, Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS, urged the ambassador to “apply unified pressure upon all parties to the Darfur conflict, most particularly the government of Sudan, to end attacks on civilians, pursue a reinvigorated peace process, speed the deployment of peacekeeping forces to the region and address regional threats to peace and stability.”
The first months of 2008 have witnessed a marked escalation of violence in Darfur. Sudanese armed forces and the Janjaweed militia have injured and killed hundreds of civilians and more than 100,000 have been forced to flee. The lack of security has caused severe disruptions to the delivery of humanitarian aid. Summary arrests of and violence against Darfuri civilians in Khartoum are only the most recent evidence of systemic violence against this portion of the population.
“The Security Council mission cannot and must not turn a blind eye to this violence,” Messinger said. “Moreover, it cannot simply ‘observe and bemoan’ the continued violence and displacement. It must act swiftly to end the stalemate costing so many lives in Sudan.”
Despite a July 2007 Security Council resolution authorizing a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur (UNAMID), the government of Sudan continues to hamper the mission’s full deployment by rejecting non-African units, delaying clearance of supplies from Port Sudan, failing to allocate land for UNAMID camps and limiting UNAMID’s freedom of movement despite a clear status-of-forces agreement.
In addition to the continued violence in Darfur, the fragile peace in the North-South border region of Abyei is now in serious jeopardy. According to Messinger, one of the Bush Administration’s greatest accomplishments was helping to broker peace between North and South Sudan, ending decades of war. This is threatened by the government of Sudan’s failure to implement its promises.
“The recent flare up of violence in the North-South border region of Abyei warrants great concern for the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” Messinger said. “A return to war would have devastating consequences for South Sudan and any prospects for peace in Darfur.”
Messinger added that the governments of Chad and Sudan are increasing insecurity and violence in the border area by providing support to rebel groups in their respective neighboring countries. She said: “The U.S. must use its leadership of the Security Council in June to take bold steps to end the violence.”
Among other steps, she noted that “these include a call for a cessation of hostilities in Darfur; the swift appointment of a joint chief mediator; passage of multilateral sanctions targeted at those responsible for human rights violations and the obstruction of UNAMID’s deployment; enforcement and expansion of the current arms embargo; and U.S. leadership to ensure UNAMID is fully equipped and that troop-contributing countries are receiving the support they require.
“The U.N. Security Council mission to Africa provides an invaluable occasion to foster unity among Council members to advance peace in Sudan and Chad. I urge you to use this mission, as well as the U.S. presidency of the Council in June, to both hold the government of Sudan accountable for its failure to abide by its commitments and to condemn Sudan’s ongoing campaign to destabilize the region. You must use your leadership to end the violence. The gravity of the situation and the ongoing loss of life demand no less of you… and of us all.”
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