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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 00:35 GMT 01:35 UK
UN 'missed' Darfur crisis signs
By Karen Allen
BBC East Africa correspondent

Women sit in a makeshift camp in Seleah village, in Sudan's West Darfur province
The UN was blind to Darfur people's plight, the report says
Early warning signs of ethnic tensions in Darfur were ignored years before the catastrophe unfolded, a damning report on the conflict claims.

Minority Rights Group International says that the UN and the international community failed to learn from mistakes in Rwanda 10 years earlier.

Clues that a crisis was emerging in 2001 were missed, the respected UK-based human rights group says.

And mechanisms were dismantled which might have detected the problems ahead.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and nearly a third of the population displaced.

'Blindness'

MRGI lists a litany of missed opportunities in the face of escalating human rights violations and insecurity.

Though in 2001 UN staff were beginning to sound the alarm about Darfur, the UN's main human rights watchdog, the Commission on Human Rights, removed Sudan from its watch-list two years later.

The blindness towards Darfur was further fuelled, it is claimed, by the fact that a separate conflict between north and south Sudan, one of the world's longest civil wars, was drawing to a close.

Human rights groups allege that calls for the world's attention to focus on Darfur was seen as a peace spoiler.

Now, despite a Darfur peace deal, signed with one of the rebel groups back in May, the situation has become far more complex.

The UN does now have early warning systems in place but for conflicts like Darfur to be detected before they escalate it is argued their resources need to be bolstered.




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