For Immediate Release: August 28, 2008
Human Rights First condemns in the strongest possible terms this week’s attack on Kalma camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Darfur by agents of the Sudanese government which left an estimated 64 civilians dead and more than 100 wounded. According to reports from the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), on the morning of August 25, members of the Sudanese military and police amassed outside Kalma camp with the intention to search the camp for weapons and drugs. Their attempt to forcibly enter the camp was resisted by IDPs and heavy, indiscriminate gunfire ensued.
More than 90,000 people are believed to live in the squalid conditions of Kalma camp and many are allegedly armed. Tensions are known to be high inside the camp as many of its residents have lived there for years after being forced to flee from their homes in Darfur due to the campaign of violence orchestrated by the Government of Sudan in the region.
The incident at Kalma camp is but the latest in a series of attacks led by the Government of Sudan against civilians in Darfur in recent months. Such attacks—as well as those targeting peacekeepers and humanitarian workers by all parties to the conflict in Darfur —are a stark reminder of the easy access that belligerents have to weapons, in spite of the arms embargo implemented by the United Nations Security Council more than three years ago. The fact that IDP camps are now allegedly flooded with weapons also demonstrates the failure of the arms embargo.
Human Rights First reiterates its call for the Security Council to enforce and expand the Darfur arms embargo to cover all of Sudan. Likewise, governments currently providing weapons and related materiel to Khartoum should immediately voluntarily suspend them.
Stemming the flow of arms and related materiel to Darfur is a critical step in creating the environment under which a sustainable peace is possible and UNAMID can successfully conduct its operations. Taking steps to enforce and expand the embargo will also help send a clear message to all belligerents to the Darfur conflict that their disregard for the rule of law will no longer be tolerated.