Sudan: AU-UN peacekeepers must be given unfettered access to protect civilians in Jebel Marra

1 February 2018

Responding to news the joint AU and UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur (UNAMID) has signed an agreement with the Sudanese government to open a temporary base in Darfur’s Jebel Marra area, the site of documented chemical attacks against civilians among other atrocities, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said:
 
“This long overdue agreement between UNAMID and the Sudanese authorities is a positive first step towards protecting the people of Darfur against further violations by the armed forces and their allied militias. However, the Sudanese government must ensure that UNAMID peacekeepers are guaranteed unfettered access across all of Jebel Marra to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid once the base is operational.”
 
“Civilians in Darfur, especially in Jebel Marra, continue to face chronic insecurity since suffering the unimaginable horror of the Sudan Armed Forces’ latest brutal military campaign in 2016. The onslaught subjected men, women and children to indiscriminate bombing, unlawful killings, rape, forced displacement and systematic looting.” 
 
“UNAMID must use this opportunity to publicly report on all allegations of crimes under international law and human rights violations committed by any party to the conflict in Darfur, especially in the Jebel Marra area.”
 
Background
 
The joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission to Darfur signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sudanese government on Monday to open a temporary base in Golo, which is in Jebel Marra, Central Darfur State. The establishment of the base was mandated by the UN Security Council in June 2017.
 
Between January and September 2016, Amnesty International documented that Sudanese government forces carried out a large-scale military campaign in the Jebel Marra area in Darfur. These attacks destroyed more than 100 villages and displaced more than 100,000 civilians, most of whom remain in IDP camps on the outskirts of Jebel Marra, unable to return home due to continued insecurity.
In a report, Amnesty International revealed credible evidence of the shocking use of what are believed to be chemical weapons, against civilians, including very young children, during the same military campaign. These brutal attacks left an estimated 200 to 250 people dead and scores more with horrific injuries.