Darfur Consortium urges Contact Group to take strong stance on Darfur

(NEW YORK, September 21, 2007) As diplomats from 26 countries meet today in New York, the Darfur Consortium is asking this enlarged contact group on Sudan to pursue a holistic approach to the Darfur crisis by addressing issues of the protection of civilians, continuing the political process and remaining seized of the questions of accountability for crimes committed in the course of the conflict. 

“The enlarged contact group should send a strong message to the government of Sudan, rebel movements, militias and the people of Darfur that they will keep the pressure on until the situation on the ground improves,” said Dismas Nkunda, Spokesperson for Darfur Consortium. 

Recent diplomatic moves, including the passage of Security Council Resolution 1769, paving the way for deployment of a UN-AU hybrid force (UNAMID) and the announcement that peace talks will be resumed in Tripoli on October 27, are steps in the right direction. 

“Unfortunately, these positive developments in New York and Addis Ababa have not translated into any improvement of the situation on the ground in Darfur. Indeed, not only have the Janjaweed militias continued to attack and rape civilians, but new violence has sprung up among Arab tribes causing further insecurity and displacement,” said Salih Mahmoud Osman, an opposition member of Parliament in Sudan.  

The Darfur Consortium urges the contact group to ensure expeditious deployment of UNAMID in Darfur. In particular, the members of the enlarged contact group who can contribute to UNAMID’s medium utility helicopter units or the medium heavy transportation companies should do so promptly. 

Given the fact that UNAMID is unlikely to be in a position to deploy until next year, the contact group should consider taking urgent measures to improve the security situation for civilians in Darfur. These might include continuing political pressure on the parties to ensure an effective ceasefire and reinforcing AMIS in the short term. 

The contact group should also consider what types of financial and political support it can offer to the next phase of political negotiations in Libya in order to ensure that they constitute a genuine and effective political process. 

The Darfur Consortium equally asks the contact group to keep the question of justice and accountability on their agenda. “Justice and accountability have become an orphaned child in the whole Darfur debate,” Nkunda said. “Yet questions of justice and accountability are, very integral in the resolution of the crisis and should not be swept under the carpet,” he added.

The Darfur Consortium is a coalition of more than 50 African and international non-governmental organizations committed to working collaboratively for a just and sustainable peace in Darfur.