IHEU Speaks Out at the UN on Food for the Sudan

  • post Type / Campaigns
  • Date / 24 May 2005

In a joint statement with the Association for World Education, Representative David G Littman spoke at the UN Commission on Human Rights on 29 March 2005. He highlighted the plight of over two million displaced Darfuri people and called for an end to the violent conflict, the establishment of the rule of law, the disarmament and disbanding of the Janjaweed militias and the creation of trust and confidence among the different ethnic groups of the area.

Case Postale 205 – 1196 Gland – Switzerland

STATEMENT: Representative David G. LITTMAN. 29 March 2005
UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS 61st session (14 March-22 April 2005)
Economic, Social and Cultural rights: The Right to food (item 10)
[Words in square brackets and smaller type were not read]

This is a joint statement with the International Humanist and Ethical Union. We shall speak on the “Right to Food” in relation to the grave consequences of the genocidal conflicts in the Sudan. We are also making available AWE’s written statement on Darfur: E/CN.4/2005/NGO/106: [Darfur, Sudan: Non-impunity and Prosecutions for Genocide. We welcome
the energetic efforts of Special Rapporteur Jean Ziegler on the right to food, [which is indivisibly linked to human dignity and the right to life. ]

We hailed the recent peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) [and also the Security Council Resolution to send UN peacekeepers to monitor this peace agreement, and the pledges of many States to give aid, both financial and technical], so that the survivors of this long and destructive civil war – over 2 millions killed and 4.5 million refugees – can be aided in their “right to food” and their “right to life.” [Much of the
agricultural infrastructure of south Sudan has been destroyed by the conflict.] Much of the population has been kept alive only through international food aid – a mark of international solidarity – but also a telling indicator of the degree of destruction in the South. [Rebuilding the agricultural infrastructure so
that there will be a domestic supply of food will be a task which requires, local, national, and international efforts. Agricultural production is an essential part, but only a part, of the total South Sudanese society torn apart by civil war.]

Two weeks ago, the WFP’s director in Sudan, Ramiro Lopes da Silva forecast “a new catastrophe unless more food gets [to Sudan] fast.” He stated that there was not enough food for the “5.5 million people who need assistance,” and that the agency had received only 14% of the 300 million dollars it required.
[“WFP Warns of Serious Food Shortfalls in Sudan”, Nairobi, March 17, 2005, AFP]

Tragically, the Government-SPLM peace agreement does not cover the provinces of Darfur where agricultural infrastructure – granaries, seed stocks, cattle and farm animals, as well as homes – have been deliberately destroyed. The wells needed for water were filled in and covered over.
The Special Rapporteur’s report on Darfur is a moving description of efforts to destroy all the means of production and thus the very identity of a people. The threat of mass starvation coincides with mass ethnic cleansing in Darfur. According to the recent Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the UN Secretary-General the crisis has characteristics resembling genocide, here quoted:

[“The GOS and the Janjaweed are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law. In particular, the Commission found that Government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur. These acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity. The extensive destruction and displacement have resulted in a loss of livelihood and means of survival for countless women, men and children. In addition to the large-scale attacks, many people have been arrested and detained and may have been held incommunicado for long periods and tortured. The vast majority of the victims of all these violations have been for the Fur,, Zaghawa, Massalit , Aranga and other so-called ‘African’ tribes� The Commission considers that action must be taken urgently to end these violations �. International offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide” (Report, Int. Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the UN Secretary-General, Geneva, 25 Jan. 2005.)]

Over the past 18 months, according to UN figures, over two million Darfuri have been displaced & more than 180,000 have lost their lives in a reign of racist terror. Adequate food production can be restored only with an end to the violent conflict, the establishment of the rule of law, the disarmament and disbanding of the Janjaweed militias and the creation of trust and confidence among the different ethnic groups of the area.

Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the African Union and its monitoring forces, we are far from the stability needed for a return of refugees and the internally displaced. There is as yet no possibility for adequate food production. Darfur would require permanent observers of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, so that, along with FAO experts, the agricultural situation is closely monitored and the Right to Food receives the priority it deserves there.

The Security Council is expected to act soon on this monstrous tragedy, but we urge the Commission to adopt a strong, credible resolution.

Thank you, Mr Chairman

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