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Sudan/Chad: Time is running out; Protect the people of Darfur

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"The troops that are here are not enough on the ground, they don't have enough equipment and that's why they're not operating effectively - we have to try and protect civilians but we don't have enough personnel for that,"

Brigadier General Ephraim Rurangwa, African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) deputy force commander, April 2007

More than 200,000 people have died in the four-year conflict in Darfur, Sudan, and more than 2.5 million have been displaced from their homes. In 2007, this terrible situation has become even worse. Murder, rape, pillage and mass forced displacement continue to be used as weapons of war by Janjawid militias, supported by the Sudanese government, along with Sudanese armed forces. Armed opposition groups have also been responsible for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The conflict in Darfur has spread beyond Sudan's borders. Civilians in eastern Chad are now also being attacked by Sudanese Janjawid militias and their local Chadian allies, who plunder and kill with impunity. More than 140,000 internally displaced Chadian civilians are sheltering in settlements in eastern Chad as well as 230,000 refugees from Sudan.

On 29 April, Amnesty International and partner organizations will be co-ordinating global event to highlight the plight of the people of Darfur.

Anti-government armed groups operate from within Chad and Sudan and both governments accuse each other of supporting their armed opponents. In recent months relations between Chad and Sudan have deteriorated further. On 9 April 2007, Chadian and Sudanese forces clashed in Khour Baranga zone,West Darfur, with reported fatalities on both sides. Chadian soldiers had pursued Chadian opposition combatants across the border into Darfur.

The Darfur Peace Agreement is faltering and is in danger of collapse. There have been clashes in Khartoum between one faction of the former Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (the faction led by Minni Minawi, Senior Assistant to the President of Sudan), and Sudanese armed forces.

Some positive steps have been taken to bring justice for the people of Darfur. On 27 February the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court presented evidence on war crimes committed in Darfur. The State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, and the Janjawid leader, Ali Kosheib, were named. However, Sudan is refusing to co-operate with the Court so the responsibility lies with the African Union and the rest of the international community to enforce any arrest warrants issued.