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UN Says Sudan Has Failed To Disarm Militias

UN Envoy Says Sudan Has Failed To Disarm Militias And Stop Attacks In Darfur

The Sudanese Government has not disarmed the notorious Janjaweed militias nor stopped their brutal attacks against civilians in the war-torn Darfur region, the senior UN envoy to Sudan told the Security Council today in a meeting assessing what steps Khartoum has taken to restore security to Darfur.

Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, called for the mission of African Union (AU) monitors in Darfur to be expanded in size and mandate to better protect the region’s vast population of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

He praised Khartoum for making some progress since the Security Council imposed a 30-day deadline on 30 July, citing the end of Government military attacks in areas with high numbers of IDPs, the deployment of extra police, the removal of restrictions on humanitarian relief and the start of negotiations with Darfur’s two rebel groups.

But Mr. Pronk said Khartoum had failed in two key areas to meet the commitments it made in a joint communiqué with the UN in early July: it has not stopped attacks by militias against civilians and it has not disarmed the militias.

While he welcomed the reining in of part of the Popular Defense Force as “a laudable step,” most militias, especially the notorious Government-allied Janjaweed, have not been disarmed.

Mr. Pronk also said no serious steps have been made to identify any of the militia leaders or bring them to justice, “allowing violations of human rights to continue in a climate of impunity.”

Some 1.2 million IDPs live in at least 139 sites around Darfur, an impoverished region in western Sudan that is equivalent in size to France. Another 200,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Chad.

Many of the IDPs and refugees have told UN agencies that left their home villages because of deadly attacks by the Janjaweed and Government forces, which have been fighting an armed rebellion in Darfur since February last year.

Mr. Pronk said in his address that the humanitarian situation remains bleak; while there have been no major outbreaks of infectious disease, malnutrition and mortality “is still high, too high.”

Many IDPs are also out of reach of relief workers because of the remoteness of the region, and some areas lack access to food, water and sanitation.

The Council is meeting today to discuss what kind of progress Khartoum has made in implementing its pledges to restore security and end the violence in Darfur.

Last month, in Resolution 1556, the Council stated it may take action under Article 41 of the UN Charter if Sudan has not taken steps to meet those promises. Article 41 measures include unspecified economic penalties and the severing of diplomatic relations.

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