The African Union must not abandon Darfur

(NEW YORK, September 19, 2006)—In a statement issued in New York today, the Darfur Consortium called on the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) to take four critical steps when it meets at summit level tomorrow:

* Extend the mandate of the African Union Mission in Sudan until the year’s end and reaffirm its support for the extension of the UN mission in Sudan to Darfur;
* Unequivocally reject the Government of Sudan’s security plan to “stabilize” the situation in Darfur as a clear violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and a sure recipe for disaster;
* Urgently re-establish the political process to restore energy to the peace process and tackle the gaps in the DPA; 
* Call for demilitarization by the warring parties and observance of the cease-fire.

Alioune Tine, one of the founding members of the Darfur Consortium, warned “in the face of escalating violence, the African Union must stay the course and not abandon the people of Darfur.”

African leaders have an obligation to insist on the right—and responsibility—of all Africans acting collectively to ensure the protection of the people of Darfur, he said, adding: “In the new Africa the veil of sovereignty must be pierced when a State is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens from massive violations of international humanitarian law.”

Members of the Darfur Consortium have been greatly alarmed by the dangerous escalation in the security situation in Darfur in recent weeks, fuelled by both the stagnated political process and increasing attacks by the warring parties on civilian areas. As rumors circulate of an imminent AU withdrawal, the desperation of Darfur’s suffering population is at crisis proportions.

“Governments across the continent are united in apprehension of an AU troop pull out from Darfur. The events and demonstrations across Africa from Dakar to Juba on the Global Day for Darfur on Sunday also showed the depth of feeling of ordinary Africans at this time” Mr. Tine said. “We all recall the horror which unfolded in the wake of the withdrawal of international forces from Rwanda in 1994. This concern, however, must now be transformed into action by African leaders.”

The African Union has already decided to transform the African Union mission in Darfur into a United Nations Mission. This decision, which has been accepted by almost all members of the international community, is the most effective way to protect civilians in Darfur and to give a chance to peace. 

Mr. Tine pointed out that the decision of the AU to seek the support of the UN in expanding the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to Darfur, had been accepted by almost all members of the international community, as the most effective way to consolidate the AU’s efforts towards a lasting peace.

“We urge Sudan to consider its responsibilities toward the people of Darfur and to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA),” stated Mr. Tine. “Sudan and the other signatory parties established a central role for the AU in implementing, and in acting as guarantor for, the DPA. If the AU assessment is that it needs UN support to deliver on its responsibilities — both to the parties and the people of Darfur — then such a delegation of functions is not only its obligation but entirely within its remit.”

The Darfur Consortium represents over forty Africa-based and Africa-focused civil society organizations working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

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