JEM: We will stop using child soldiers

Here is a welcome development.

Rebels in Sudan’s Darfur region and the United Nations have signed a deal to protect children from being used as soldiers in conflict zones.

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, an independent mediation group based in Geneva, says Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, and the United Nations Children’s Fund– UNICEF have signed a deal to protect children.

Dennis McNamara, Humanitarian Adviser, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, said, “I’m very pleased to say that the dialogue that has been long and detailed has finally resulted in a very concrete and important outcome which is the signing of this agreement.”

Under the agreement, UNICEF will have full access to all JEM locations to verify that children are not being exploited and used as soldiers.

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Arson Attack at IDP Camp

While Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir taunted the ICC by traveling to Egypt, arsonists started a fire at an IDP camp in West Darfur – killing at least two people and destroying 600 shelters.

Reports have emerged that describe the arsonists as armed men, some in uniform, who entered the camp during the middle of the night.

The fire, fueled by strong winds, damaged a quarter of the camp – home to 6,000 people.

JEM rebels blame state-backed militias for the fire –

This is part of a government campaign to clear people out of the camps.

The fire is currently under control.

UN: Peacekeepers Will Stay

Today, the chief of UN peacekeeping operations announced that UNAMID peacekeepers will remain in Darfur even if the ICC issues an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir on March 4th, as expected.

The Government would assume its full duty of protecting UN missions in Sudan against any negative impact that may result from the ICC’s possible decision against Sudanese political leadership.

The chief also stated that the UN will have “contingency planning to try to react to any situation”.

In other news, the leader of rebel group Justice and Equality Movement warned the Sudanese government today against harming Darfur civilians in response to the ICC’s decision.

If they harm civilians, JEM will react.

Sudan to Release Darfur Prisoners

Sudan’s justice minister has announced that the government will release 24 Darfur detainees.

The move comes after Tuesday’s signing of a deal of good intentions between Sudan and rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

On its end, JEM released 21 government prisoners-of-war this week.

The justice minister did not specify whether those released would be JEM rebels but did emphasize that the Sudanese government’s aim is to promote peace efforts.

Nevertheless, there are reports that 17 JEM rebels and 11 Sudanese soldiers were killed during fighting in Darfur on Thursday – just two days after the signing of the goodwill deal.

Sudan and Rebels Make Deal

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Today, the Sudanese government and rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) drafted a “declaration of good intentions”.

The deal reportedly includes an agreement to cease attacks on IDP camps in Darfur and the refugees who call them home.

The agreement is to be signed Tuesday.

Both the Sudanese government and JEM know that while this deal is significant, it alone will not bring peace to Darfur. More work lies ahead.

Ceasefire Violated Only Two Days Later

63Sudanese President Al-Bashir’s proclamation of a ceasefire last week rejuvenated hope for the people of Darfur and concerned citizens across the globe. However, it took only two days for the ceasefire to be violated.

According to Darfur rebel groups, multiple attacks by the government have come both by land and by air in Northern Darfur. UN sources have confirmed the attacks.

Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) spokesperson Ali Wafi believes the attacks lend credence to the idea that Al-Bashir’s praised ceasefire is “just a big lie and public relations”.

A spokesman for the Sudanese army refuted the “attacks” and reiterated the government’s steadfast commitment to the ceasefire – claiming the army’s actions were only in response to a robbery.