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Nov. Saw Marked Security Deterioration In Darfur


November Saw Marked Security Deterioration In Sudan’s Darfur Region, Security Council Told

With increased clashes threatening to plunge Sudan’s western Darfur region into chaos, the top United Nations political officer today called on the international community to exert pressure on both the Government and rebels to abide by their pledges to end what the UN has termed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“Despite some earlier gains, November was characterized by violence and a marked deterioration in the security situation,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told the Security Council in a briefing on the crisis based on the UN’s 30-day report, which was circulated yesterday to Council members.

He recited a litany of ceasefire violations by both sides, banditry, looting, increased activity by the Janjaweed and other pro-government militia, and the Government’s failure to disarm them. Nearly 1.7 million people have been displaced since rebels took up arms last year to demand a greater share of the region’s economic resources and the Janjaweed stand accused of killing and raping thousands of villagers.

Mr. Prendergast noted that the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) is thought to be responsible, although it has denied it, for instigating much of the violence in violation of security and humanitarian accords signed with the Khartoum Government in early November in Abuja, Nigeria.

“A clear message needs to be sent to the SLA to stop military action, at least some of which appears deliberately intended to provoke the Government into retaliation,” he said.

He added that Government air raids in retaliation, which Khartoum has denied, would – if confirmed - also violate the Abuja accords, and warned that the armed militias should not be allowed to take the law into their own hands by responding in kind to violence instigated by the SLA.

“Regrettably, the Government has made no progress in disarming the Janjaweed,” he said, adding that the African Union (AU) Ceasefire Commission had confirmed that it had not been invited so far to verify any disarmament activities by the Government. Nor had there been any evidence of the Government bringing to justice Janjaweed leaders for their past crimes as demanded by the Security Council in July in resolution 1556.

“Indeed, unconfirmed reports continue to circulate that the armed militias continue to receive arms from some quarters in Khartoum,” he said.

Mr. Prendergast praised AU efforts to get the parties to comply with their commitments, as well as the role of the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS). But he noted that AMIS so far had only 800 troops and just over 100 military observers in Darfur for its monitoring and mediating tasks.

“The Government’s inaction regarding the disarmament of the militia underscores the need to strengthen AMIS’ capacity even further,” he said.

Mr. Prendergast also noted that the increased insecurity and the rainy season had cut off relief operations from tens of thousands of vulnerable civilians.

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