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Despite Peace Talks, Violence Worsens in Darfur

Despite Ongoing Peace Talks, Violence Worsens in Sudan’s Darfur Region

New York, May 2 2006 4:00PM

Despite an improved atmosphere and continuing peace talks, the level of fighting and violence on the ground in Sudan’s western Darfur region has been increasing, marked by clashes between various rebel factions and attacks by the Government and pro-government militias, the top United Nations official in the country warned today.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Jan Pronk voiced particular concern that attacks by the Government and militias in South Darfur, some on areas held by the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) contrary to earlier accord, could escalate into a full-scale assault on the town of Gereida, where nearly 100,000 internally displaced persons have taken refuge.

Mr. Pronk called on the Government and rebel groups to exercise maximum restraint at this crucial stage. In North Darfur, he noted that there had been continuing clashes between different SLA factions.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today spent a second day in Darfur, where some 180,000 people have been killed and 2 million more uprooted in the three years of fighting between the Government, militias and rebels.

Yesterday, she was in south Darfur where she travelled to Nyala and met with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community leaders and local authorities.
Today in west Darfur she met with UN relief officials in el-Geneina to discuss how persistent insecurity was hampering humanitarian aid delivery. The lack of access was having a dramatic effect there, her office reported.

Ms. Arbour, who is on a six-day visit to Africa's largest country, is expected to meet with senior Sudanese Government officials and representatives of the diplomatic community in Khartoum, the capital, tomorrow.

On Thursday, she will travel to Juba in southern Sudan, where a peace accord in 2005 ended a two-decades-long civil war that uprooted some 4.5 million people from their homes.


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