[JURIST] Attacks carried out by the Sudanese Army in four Darfur villages earlier this year constituted human rights violations, according to a report [PDF text; press release] released Thursday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) [official website]. The attacks, ostensibly meant to drive back the rebel Justice and Equality Movement [group website, in English], left at least 115 dead and some 30,000 displaced. The UN report documented human rights violations by both the Sudanese military and armed militias, including rapes, looting, and the deliberate destruction of food reserves:
Military attacks in [the villages], involved aerial bombardments by helicopter gunships and fixed-wing aircraft, accompanied by ground offensives by militia and SAF. Consistent information gathered by UNAMID Human Rights Officers (HROs) indicated that these actions violated the principle of distinction stated in international humanitarian law, failing to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives. Moreover, the scale of destruction of civilian property, including objects indispensable for the survival of the civilian population, suggests that the damage was a deliberate and integral part of a military strategy. Information on extensive pillaging during and after the attacks was also gathered. In addition, consistent and credible accounts of rape committed by armed uniformed men during and after the attack in Sirba were collected.The UN News Centre has more.
In May 2007, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour criticized [JURIST report] Sudan for conducting similar "indiscriminate and disproportionate" attacks on at least five Darfur villages. Since civil war broke out in the Darfur region in 2003, over 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced. Reports by the UNHCHR and the International Committee for the Red Cross [official website] have documented numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law [JURIST reports] based on interviews with refugees, rebel groups, and agencies and authorities working in the region.