Two weeks ago, a UN report confirmed that May was the bloodiest month in Darfur since the United Nations peacekeeping mission deployed in 2007. State sponsored violence, clashes between rebel groups, and regular banditry have resulted in over 400 people killed that month.
Life is hard for Darfur’s refugees in eastern chad. This disturbing video from the UN Refugee Agency shows how Darfuri refugees are coping with shortages of water and cooking fuel as they fight to survive in a harsh environment.
The last time the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, in March 2009, Khartoum responded in kind by expelling several aid workers and organizations from Darfur. The expulsion of aid agencies back then had a profoundly deleterious effect on the humanitarian situation in Darfur, in particular for the provision of health services to victims of sexual assault.
Is history repeating?
The International Criminal Court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for the crime of genocide for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. Now, you might be asking yourself: “wasn’t he already under indictment.” The answer is yes. But when the prosecutor applied for an arrest warrant in spring 2009, the judges did not sign the warrant for “genocide”–only for war crimes and crimes against humanity. At the time, the judges ruled there to be insufficient evidence to support a genocide charge. An appellate chamber reversed that ruling.
One of the main Darfur rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), signed a preliminary peace deal with the Sudanese government in Doha yesterday. So is this really the beginning of the end of the Darfur conflict? Over at the Enough Project’s blog, Laura Heaton offers some valuable analysis:
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.