Human rights violations entrench displacement in Darfur

While the world’s attention is focused on the creation of the new State of South Sudan, civilians in another part of Sudan, Darfur continue to bear the brunt of clashes between Government forces and armed rebel groups. Last year alone, more than 2000 civilian lives were lost to the conflict.

Deputy High Commissioner interacts with the displaced in Zamzam camp, North Darfur © Sgt. Jallow Kaba/UNAMID Photo

Since the beginning of the Darfur conflict in 2003, close to two million people have been displaced. More than 100,000 live in the Zamzam camp, on the outskirts of North Darfur capital El Fasher.

“I'm shocked by the conditions of the new arrivals in this camp,” said the Deputy High Commissioner on visiting Zamzam. “Certainly, the attention and support of the international community has to come back. Especially here with so many new people coming in to find shelter,” she said. “The UN system, protection cluster and humanitarian assistance setup is trying as best as it can, but the challenge is just so enormous. I’ve seen many camps in many countries. But this is just on a totally different scale.”

The conflict in Darfur has been marked by widespread impunity for acts of violence against civilians including indiscriminate attacks and killings, sexual and gender based violence, looting of civilian property, arbitrary detention and torture. Fleeing the armed clashes, civilians who have relocated to camps face insecurity, inadequate food and water supplies, and lack of basic rights such as education, shelter and land. In addition, the presence of armed men in and around some of the camps severely restricts the movement and other rights of camp residents.

Some camp dwellers have sought to return to their places of origin or to resettle into host communities. While the Government has encouraged returns, the on-going insecurity and lawlessness make it unlikely that most will leave the camps in the near future.

When she landed in El Fasher, the Deputy High Commissioner said the purpose of her visit was “come to see for myself this very difficult situation, how people’s human rights have been affected by displacements and to work with partners within the UN and others to find ways to help protect those rights even under very difficult circumstances. The displacement of the Darfur people has been prolonged and continues. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights remains deeply concerned about their plight, and urged all parties to halt the violence and engage in an inclusive process of negotiations toward peace.”

Kang’s visit also included Tawilla in North Darfur where she discussed increasing dialogue and cooperation between local authorities and UN humanitarian workers. She had an extensive discussion with the Wali (Governor) of North Darfur on a wide array of human rights challenges and requested his cooperation and leadership on specific cases.  She later met with a number of civil society and community leaders on issues of their rights to advocacy and participation in the Darfur peace process. She also learned of the difficulties facing victims in Tawilla to lodge complaints due to the lack of formal law enforcement system and the presence of armed movements operating in the area.

In El Geneina in West Darfur, the Deputy High Commissioner met with the Deputy Wali (Governor), the Chief Prosecutor, and other local authorities as well as community leaders representing the IDP communities.

28 June 2011

Video of Deputy High Commissioner in Darfur: