The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, have independently called on the government of Sudan to take responsibility for the protection of civilians, and to prevent further outbreaks of violence in the restive Kereinik locality in West Darfur, where at least 200 people, including children, have died in several days of violence, widely attributed to attacks by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) ‘janjaweed’ militiamen, exploiting, inflaming, and blaming ‘inter-tribal conflicts’.
In a statement from New York via a spokesperson, Secretary-General deplores the killings of civilians in Kereinik, as well as the attacks on health facilities on 24 April. He calls for an immediate end to the violence. The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the families of those killed and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
The primary responsibility for the protection of civilians in Darfur rests with the government of Sudan’ – António Guterres
In the statement, the Secretary-General underscores that “the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians in Darfur rests with the government of Sudan”. He takes note of efforts undertaken by the Sudanese authorities to address the situation, including a commitment to evacuate injured civilians, and calls for the acceleration of the deployment of the joint security keeping forces as per the Juba Peace Agreement.
The Secretary-General stresses the importance of strengthening security in Darfur including through the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, bolstering the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and fully implementing the national plan for the protection of civilians. He calls for unhindered humanitarian access and an independent investigation of this and other acts of intercommunal violence, to ensure those responsible for the violence are held accountable.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warns against escalation
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in a statement from Geneva on Wednesday called on the Sudanese authorities to protect the population of West Darfur and take urgent steps to prevent further outbreaks of communal violence.
I am concerned that this region continues to see repeated, serious incidents of intercommunal violence, with mass casualties…’ – Michelle Bachelet
“I am appalled by reports that at least 159 people were killed in Kerenik on 22 and 24 April, 107 injured and thousands displaced from their homes, and at least five villages in the region were also attacked,” she said. “I am concerned that this region continues to see repeated, serious incidents of intercommunal violence, with mass casualties. While initial measures taken by the authorities to calm tensions are welcome, I urge the authorities to address the underlying causes of violence in this region and fulfil their responsibility to protect the population.”
Bachelet called on the authorities to take immediate action to protect the population and assist the wounded and displaced. “I urge the authorities to ensure that the many people injured in Kereinik, who have still not received medical care, are quickly and safely evacuated to hospitals, and to facilitate humanitarian assistance for the displaced.
“I call on the Sudanese authorities to conduct prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations into these attacks and hold all those responsible to account in accordance with international human rights law. The victims and their families have a right to effective remedies,” Bachelet says.
She also urges them “to accelerate the long-delayed implementation of the security measures set out in the Juba Peace Agreement which stipulated the establishment of a joint security-keeping force to protect civilians in Darfur, and to implement the National Action Plan for the Protection of Civilians,” Bachelet concludes.