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Darfur Peace Deal Needs Fresh Discussions

UN Envoy To Sudan Says Darfur Peace Deal Needs Fresh Discussions To Be Effective

New York, Sep 18 2006 7:00PM

The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) that was supposed to end the fighting in the war-torn region of western Sudan “is in a coma,” violated day after day and lacking the respect of most locals, the senior United Nations envoy to the country said today as he called for a reshaping of the peace deal.

Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, told the Security Council that while the DPA – which was signed in early May – is a good agreement in theory, it lacks the support of several key rebel groups who have since been marginalized from the peace process.

“The Darfur Peace Agreement is only four months old, but it is nearly dead. It is in a coma. It ought to be under intensive care, but it isn’t.”

Mr. Pronk called for new consultations on the DPA to include those groups that did not sign the deal, although he warned against this being labelled as the “reopening of the peace negotiations.”

The envoy also recommended the striking of a truce to end the continuing clashes in the region, as well as an enhanced and improved ceasefire commission to deal with the numerous violations of the DPA.

“Since its signing, the DPA has been violated day after day, week after week,” Mr. Pronk said, adding that “the use of rape as a tool of terror is frequent and again on the rise.”

Mr. Pronk, who was briefing the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Sudan, voiced concern about what might happen at the end of this month, when African Union (AU) troops stationed in Darfur are slated to leave.

“The AU is less effective than it was a year ago, but its presence is essential. Departure of the AU leaves the people in the camps [for internally displaced persons] unprotected and vulnerable to anyone who would wish to harm them and resume the cleansing of 2003 and 2004.”

The Security Council voted last month to deploy more than 17,000 UN peacekeepers in Darfur, but Khartoum has remained adamant that it is opposed to such a force.

“The UN does not deserve the insinuations from Sudanese political leadership in power. We do not intend to recolonize, nor are we laying a carpet for others to do so,” Mr. Pronk said.

The envoy cited the work of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in the south of the vast country, where it is implementing a December 2004 peace deal that end two decades of civil war, as an example of how the world body has demonstrated it can be “a fair and effective peacekeeper.”

Mr. Pronk’s briefing comes as UN officials led by Secretary-General Kofi Annan have warned of an impending man-made catastrophe in Darfur if the AU forces are allowed to leave and the UN is not able to replace them.

In a statement released today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that as many as 350,000 people could be displaced and lose their access to such necessities as clean water and health care if there are no peacekeepers of any kind in place next month.

Meanwhile in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, today decried the deteriorating situation in Darfur. “Combatants routinely make a mockery of the principles of international humanitarian law: not only are armed groups failing to discriminate between civilians and combatants, they specifically target civilians who are from tribes and groups perceived as hostile, she told the Human Rights Council. œDespite repeated assurances by thῥ Government of Sudan, the level of sexual violence in Darfur continues to rise.

Already about 1.9 million have been displaced across Darfur, and scores of thousands killed, since fighting broke out between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups in 2003.

Ends

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