A high-ranking United Nations human rights official today said she was shocked at the conditions of a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur and called for renewed international concern with the situation in the war-torn Sudanese region.
Kyung-wha Kang, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights visited the Zamzam IDP camp, which lies on the outskirts of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, and is home to more than 100,000 people.
“I think the concern of the international community should be to come back. I think it has dissipated quite a bit. Especially, here with so many new people coming in to settle,” she said.
Earlier this week the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) reported violent clashes near Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur that forced about 1,000 people from their homes.
“The UN system, protection cluster and humanitarian assistance set-up is trying as best as it can, but the challenge is just so enormous,” Ms. Kang said. “I’ve seen many camps in many countries. But this is just on a totally different scale.”
An estimated 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict between rebels, Government forces and allied Arab militiamen erupted in 2003 and about 2.7 million others have had to flee their homes. Both sides have been accused of numerous human rights abuses.
“The purpose of my visit is to come and see for myself this very difficult situation, how people’s human rights have been affected by displacements and to work with partners within the UN and others to find ways to help protect those rights even under very difficult circumstances,” said Ms. Kang.
“Because the displacement of the Darfur people has been ongoing for such a long time, this is a particular concern for the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”
Earlier this week Ms. Kang visited Southern Sudan, where she said the Government of the soon-to-be independent country must ensure that it ratifies all key global human rights treaties and make sure its citizens can enjoy basic freedoms.