In this week’s issue: conflicting accounts of the situation in Darfur, more insecurity in southern Sudan, and a worsening humanitarian situation in DRC
Featured: UNCHR reports that FDLR rebels are "on a rampage" against civilians in eastern Congo.
The AU plans to meet with ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to discuss the arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. The AU has expressed concerns that the warrant will affect peace efforts in Darfur.
The latest UN report on Darfur seemed to “downplay” the region’s conflict. Rebel groups and advocates have emerged and protested this reaction to years of violence, especially after the central government’s ejection of 16 NGOs.
The governments of Sudan and Chad are taking part in a series of peace talks in Doha, Qatar. The countries, which accuse each other of sponsoring rebel groups across their shared border, have announced their intentions to establish firmer diplomatic ties, which the US State Department has applauded. A large number of refugees from the conflict in Darfur are currently in Chad, increasing instability between the countries.
After being shut down last week, the Arabic newspaper, al-Wafiq was allowed to resume publication this Sunday.After last week’s announcement, the head of Sudan’s National Security General Salah Mohammad elected to suspend publication for only five days.
In South Sudan, doctors are treating victims of violence in the Jonglei State, as well as a cholera outbreak in the same area. Three people have died from the outbreak. South Sudan has also come out to question the “complete” status of Sudan’s recent census. After decades of war and demographic changes, these concerns are warranted. Continued violence in South Sudan and the questionable census remain threats to the 2005 CPA.
Mia Farrow is one week into her Fast for Darfur. Read daily updates here – our thoughts and encouragement are with her.
No news to report.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN Refugee Agency has reported that the humanitarian situation has worsened in the eastern DRC. The UNHCR and Human Rights Watch estimated that 100,000 displaced persons in North Kivu, who had fled their homes in recent months escaping Rwandan rebels, are at larger risk of attacks by the FDLR. These rebels have torched 360 homes in the month of April alone.
David Nthengwe, UNHCR Public Information Officer, confirmed that the FDLR are targeting civilians and the people on the ground are aware of the FDLR’s “style of operation – raping, burning houses, looting, and killing. That is their trademark…”
Human Rights Watch has called on the UN peacekeeping force and humanitarian agencies to “take urgent steps to increase protection and assistance to the civilians at risk.” The UN has fewer than 400 peacekeepers in the Lubero territory, where the over 100,000 displaced civilians are at risk. Rwandan militias have threatened to attack the neighboring towns as well. FARDC, the Congolese army, consisting of unpaid and ill-disciplined soldiers, is doing little to help, so the civilians are largely relying on the MONUC peacekeepers for protection.
A Congolese army document was recently made public, suggesting that former rebel leader Gen. Bosco Ntaganda had a major part in a mission involving MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC. The April 4 internal FARDC document refers to Ntaganda as “deputy coordinator” for an offensive in eastern Congo against Hutu rebels. Ntaganda has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. MONUC said in January that it would not work with Ntaganda in any way and has denied all allegations stating otherwise.