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Sudan: Militias Are Destroying Food Sources

Sudan: UN Human Rights Expert Warns Militias Are Destroying Food Sources

Calling for immediate action to stop armed militias destroying food and water sources in the violence-wracked Darfur region of Sudan, a United Nations rapporteur today urged the UN Commission on Human Rights to convene a special session on the situation in Darfur.

Jean Ziegler, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said he was deeply concerned by the rebels' destruction of resources in western Darfur's Jabal Marrah area.

He said he was also disturbed that the Sudanese Government is urging Darfur's massive internally displaced population - estimated at more than one million - to return to their homes.

Noting that the right to food is protected under international law, Mr. Ziegler said Khartoum wanted to send people back to their homes even though militias have either destroyed, damaged or looted crops, agricultural areas, livestock and drinking water installations.

He urged the Sudanese Government to lift any restrictions on humanitarian operations in Darfur, where Government forces, allied militias and two rebel groups have been fighting since early last year. He said they must guarantee the safety of aid workers and civilians.

Mr. Ziegler also voiced concern that international donors have not provided enough funds to match the scale of the humanitarian crisis, which senior UN officials have recently described as the world's worst.

"In two weeks, the rainy season will cut off access to many of the communities in west Darfur, the region worst affected by the conflict," he said. "The rainy season and flooding will also give rise to diarrhoeal diseases and malarial incidence, which all contribute to malnutrition and mortality rates."

Mr. Ziegler said the Geneva-based Commission should hold a special session focusing on Darfur, a region roughly the size of France.

In a separate development, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, discussed events in Darfur with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail last week during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Eight UN human rights monitors are being deployed to Darfur to examine grave violations of human rights, war crimes and other abuses.

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