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26.05.2007 General News

Darfurians Storm Accra Before AU Summit

By Ghanaian Chronicle
Darfurians Storm Accra Before AU Summit

LONG BEFORE African leaders set foot on Ghanaian soil to attend the much-awaited African Union (AU) summit slated for July this year, some natives and civil society groups in the Darfur Region of Sudan have arrived in Accra to demand an end to ongoing clashes in that Region.

They have called on the various African leaders, especially Ghana's President Kufuor to use his influence and position as Chairman of the African Union to stop the bloodshed.

The Darfurians constitute part of a forum of Non Governmental Organizations and Civil Society groups who are in the country to attend the 41st Ordinary session of the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.

At a press conference in Accra organized by 'Citizens for New Ghana', a civil society organization that seeks to provide a platform to provoke critical reflection on Ghanaian and African history and experiences to generate alternative policy perspectives, speaker after speaker condemned the atrocities being perpetrated in that country, taking into consideration the innocent civilian lives being consumed by the war.

Considering how things are going, they have expressed fear that the current situation in the Darfur Region could escalate to wreak more havoc on human lives and property and have therefore called for peace to return to the area.

First to speak was Mr. Abdelbagi Jibril, Executive Director of the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (DRDC) who gave a vivid account on the background and overview of the situation in the Region which he says calls for the immediate intervention of the United Nations.

Jibril who appears to know the inside-out of Sudanese society, thus warned African leaders of the impact that such a ravaging war would have, not only on Darfurians and Sudanese but also with implications for the entire African continent.

"We are facing a serious situation in Darfur," he said, stressing, "no one even knows the exact figure of those who have died in the process".

He fears the war could spread to other areas of the country and beyond if African leaders fail to act on the Darfur crisis.

Next after him was Osman Adam Abdelmulla, the Director, Serry for Social Development in the Darfur region who said he could count on his fingertips the number of development projects that had been undertaken in the country since independence several years ago.

In his view, no effective development has taken place in Sudan over the years, with the few ongoing projects supported by the European Union and other development partners grounding to a halt because of the war.

Abdelmulla traced the roots of the Darfur crisis to 1983 when the clashes first broke in the Region.

Whilst appreciating the fact that the crisis in that Region is an African problem, he emphasized that it has reached a stage where it needs the intervention of the United Nations.

Jane Alao, a Social Assistant with the Amal Centre for Rehabilitation and Treatment of Victims of Torture also spoke of how acts of violence, rape and abduction are being perpetrated against innocent women and children.

She said, "The situation in Darfur is so intense that women are being raped, tortured and abducted without mercy". Alao told of how female children as young as eight years and those aged 60 years and above are being callously raped.

Legal practitioner and Human Rights Activist Oman Hummaida, also a Darfurian, appears to have lost confidence in African Union troops who he says lack the logistics to bring the situation under control.

He has stressed the urgent need for the United Nations to stop sweet-talking diplomacy and intervene militarily in the Darfur crisis before matters get out of hand.

According to him, enough evidence exists for the UN to make an entry into that country since genocide is being committed.

For him, the UN does not need any further evidence to move in especially when innocent civilian lives are being taken without care.

Hummaida stressed that one of the worst atrocities in the world is being committed in the region hence the earlier the UN acts, the better.

Story by Charles Takyi-Boadu