Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

13 December 2012

Sudan: U.S. Envoy - 'Militias Seemingly Out of Control' in Darfur

Khartoum — Speaking during his final visit to Sudan before the end of his two-year appointment as US special envoy to Darfur, Dane Smith stated that "militias seem to be more and more out of control" in Darfur, on Wednesday, 12 December.

According to Smith, the situation is particularly bad in North Darfur, although Nyala and Misterei, in South and West Darfur, have also seen other "disturbing" incidents.

He suggested that the increased militias' attacks could be linked to reduced financial support from a government facing economic difficulties.

At the same time, Smith declared that the government of Sudan shows "little interest" in prosecuting perpetrators, also those who have been implicated in attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers.

He asserted that although the government announced investigations into attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers carried out by both militia and bandits, "there never are any results".

"In our view the government of Sudan needs to show its commitment to the idea that UNAMID is a partner" in bringing peace and protecting civilians, the special envoy stated.

Smith said that the rule of law is "absent" in Darfur and a special prosecutor was not effective in arresting or prosecuting perpetrators and a special court was not operating.

According to reports, a total of 43 UNAMID peacekeepers have been killed in hostile actions, five of which were killed in two separate attacks last October.

Besides, the Mission has allegedly suffered 13 attacks since the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) in 2010.

"Limited implementation"

The US special envoy has also expressed his disappointment with the "very limited implementation" of the Doha peace deal, "particularly of those provisions that bring tangible benefits to the displaced and refugees".

Shortage of funding for the Darfur Reconstruction and Development Fund and lack of government action in disarming militias were problems mentioned by Smith.

As the Doha donors conference approaches -it has now been postponed for next year- participants including the United States face an "increasingly difficult" time getting staff into Darfur to assess and supervise their aid projects, according to Smith.

Nevertheless, Smith said the United States still considered the Doha deal a "good basis for peace". He also encouraged other rebel groups to join the peace process.

"Excessive force" against students

Smith affirmed he is "unhappy about the excessive force used against Darfuri students demonstrating" against the payment of tuition fee as stipulated on the Doha Document.

He described the events as "shocking" and asserted he raised the issue during meetings with Sudanese officials during his visit to Khartoum.

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