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REPUBLIC OF SUDAN: Sudan: Attack on AU peacekeepers increases risk for civilians in Darfur

1 Oct 2007
Region: REPUBLIC OF SUDAN
Topic: Regional conflict
Amnesty International today condemned the attack on African Union (AU) peacekeepers in north Darfur over the weekend, saying that it put the lives of civilians at further risk and jeopardizes the peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
"The AU forces in Darfur are fully stretched and under-resourced," said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme. "This attack further underlines the urgent need to ensure that the AU in Sudan has the resources necessary to enable them to carry out their responsibility to protect civilians, free from attack -- and that the hybrid AU-UN force [UNAMID] be deployed to Darfur as soon as possible."

"The latest attack on AMIS troops puts in further peril the lives, safety and well-being of the civilians in Darfur who have been living for more than four years in constant fear of armed attack by the government and groups armed by the government, as well as by increasingly fragmented armed opposition groups and other armed elements."

"The fate of those peacekeepers still missing must be established, and the group responsible for the attack must account for their whereabouts immediately," said Hondora.

The organization also called for a full, independent and transparent inquiry to be conducted by the AU and the UN and for the results of the inquiry to be made public.

"The Sudanese government and all parties to the conflict in Darfur -- including all opposition, pro-government and other armed groups – must fully cooperate with an inquiry into the attacks," said Hondora.

No armed group has yet admitted to the 29 September attack on the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) base in Haskanita, north Darfur. Reports suggest the attack was carried out by a faction of an armed opposition group operating in the area.

During the attack, 10 peacekeepers were killed, eight wounded and some 40 peacekeepers -- including three military observers and one police officer -- are still missing.

Background
AMIS peacekeepers have been based in Darfur since 2004, when they were sent to maintain a ceasefire, agreed in April 2004, between the government of Sudan and armed opposition groups. Although there are supposed to be more than 7,000 AMIS peacekeepers, they are under-funded, under-equipped and seriously under strength; there are now fewer than 6,000 AMIS personnel in Darfur.

This is not the first time AMIS peacekeepers have been attacked, but it is the most serious attack so far. Most previous attacks have been ambushes apparently carried out by elements of armed opposition groups.

AI Index: AFR 54/060/2007
1 October 2007


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