Darfur Rebel Before ICC; Chad Confirms Sudan Attacks

A Darfur rebel accused of taking part in the “most serious attack against peacekeepers in Darfur” voluntarily made his way to the International Criminal Court (ICC) this week.

The rebel, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, became the first person from the Darfur conflict to appear before the ICC.

Abu Garda maintained his innocence – stating that he surrendered “out of clear conviction that justice be achieved in Darfur”.

In other news, Chad has confirmed that it indeed sent its army into neighboring Sudan to fight against Chadian rebels positioned there – an act the country believes it has a “right” to do “at any time and in any place”. Chad and Sudan have a history of accusing one another of supporting rebels belonging to each other.

Fire at UNAMID Headquarters

Last night, a fire broke out at UNAMID’s headquarters in Darfur.

No injuries were reported. However, damages to the peacekeeping mission’s communication equipment, offices, and laboratory total an estimated $5 million.

An investigation will be held to determine whether the fire was the result of a short circuit or of something else. Arson is not suspected.

Darfur Peacekeepers Shot

Four UNAMID peacekeepers operating in Darfur were shot yesterday by “unknown armed men”.

The number of attacks against UNAMID peacekeepers in 2009 now exceeds that for 2008 – and it’s only March!

This was the first incident since last week’s ICC indictment of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Khartoum has announced that it is allowing all non-essential embassy staff to leave Sudan.

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, Congo, and Zimbabwe Hurt Africa’s Human Rights Record

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Today, the US State Department presented to Congress its annual report on global human rights.

The report revealed that “human rights worsened across Africa despite some bright spots”.

The major contributors to Africa’s lamentable human rights record?

Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe.

Recently, these three countries have been ravaged by government-sponsored genocide, sexual violence, use of child soldiers, attacks on peacekeepers, a lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and security, and other gross violations of human rights.

In response to the report, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton vowed to uphold human rights in America and abroad

Not only will we seek to live up to our ideals on American soil, we will pursue greater respect for human rights as we engage other nations and people around the world.

UNAMID Helicopter Attacked

This morning, a UNAMID helicopter delivering food supplies to the people of Darfur was fired upon.

Details regarding the event are hard to come by currently.

No casualties were reported. The attackers have yet to be identified.

Darfur Town Captured

As expected, the Darfur town of Muhajiriya is now in the hands of the Sudanese army.

Rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) left Muhajiriya in an effort to prevent further fighting from impacting the town’s 30,000 residents.

UNAMID peacekeepers remained in the town – also for the sake of protecting residents.

In other news, Libyan leader and new African Union chairman Moammar Gadhafi said today that finding a resolution to the Darfur crisis is now his “personal responsibility“.