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Goff welcomes UN action on Darfur

Goff welcomes UN action on Darfur

The United Nations response to the emerging humanitarian disaster in Darfur, Sudan, is both timely and decisive, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

A UN Security Council resolution unanimously passed in New York on Friday expresses grave concern at the Darfur situation, and threatens further action if the government of Sudan fails to protect its citizens. It gives the Sudanese 30 days to demonstrate their commitment.

"New Zealand has lobbied strongly in New York and capitals worldwide in support of a strong and swift response from the UN. This resolution sends a clear message that the international community is watching, and is preparing to act," Mr Goff said.

“New Zealand endorses the call made by the UN Special Representative for continued international pressure on Sudan. The government in Khartoum must honour its commitment to disarm the Janjaweed militias that have brought death and destruction to Darfur.”

Last week Mr Goff and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer issued a joint statement calling on the Sudanese government to fulfil its responsibility for the well being and security of its own people.

Mr Goff has written to his Sudanese counterpart, Dr Mustafa Osman Ismail, expressing New Zealand's deep concern at the humanitarian situation in Darfur, and calling on all parties to respect their agreed ceasefire.

"New Zealand fully supports efforts by the UN and the African Union to resolve the Darfur conflict and avert a humanitarian disaster.

"If asked, we would consider making a modest contribution to a UN-led peacekeeping operation in southern Sudan. However, while that would assist the broader Sudanese peace process, it would not address the current crisis in Darfur, where there is not yet a peace to keep," Mr Goff said.

Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced on Thursday that New Zealand would contribute a further $1 million to humanitarian agencies working in Sudan, taking the government's contribution to $4 million since the crisis emerged.

About 30,000 people are thought to have been killed and 2.2 million left in need of emergency food aid and medical assistance following the outbreak of fighting in Darfur 15 months ago.

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