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Ceasefire Needed in Darfur, Diplomacy Intensifies

Ceasefire Needed in Darfur, Says Top UN Peacekeeping Official as Diplomacy Intensifies

New York, Nov 14 2006 5:00PM

All sides must stop fighting immediately in Darfur, the top United Nations peacekeeping official said today, as he outlined increasing diplomatic efforts over the next few weeks aimed at ending the spiralling violence and the “very tragic” situation in the strife-torn region.

“In recent weeks… the facts are that we have seen an intensification of such military operations, that needs to stop,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno told reporters after briefing the Security Council in New York.

“That emphasis on a political process, and as the basis of a political process on an immediate ceasefire, that’s something fundamental. This is an issue that was raised by several members of the Council and we at the United Nations believe strongly that it is a top priority today.”

He said yesterday’s high-level meeting in Ethiopia involving Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hédi Annabi, Sudan’s Prime Minister and other senior officials, had focused on UN support to the African Union mission (AMIS) in Darfur, and further discussions this week would follow up.

Mr. Guéhenno noted that further meetings were scheduled, including with Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The African Union Peace and Security Council will convene on 24 November, and between now and then “we do hope that the international community will come together, the United Nations, the African Union, the Government of Sudan, bearing in mind what remains a very tragic situation on the ground, will make the right decisions so we can help the people of Sudan,” he said.

At least 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Darfur as a result of the conflict between Government forces, allied militias and rebels seeking greater autonomy, and more than 2 million others have been displaced.

However the Government has rejected the expansion of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to the troubled region and at present the UN assists AMIS, and is currently working on a $21 million package that has the support of the African Union and the Sudanese Government.

Violence in Darfur has already spilled over into neighbouring countries, especially Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR), and Mr. Guéhenno confirmed the UN was sending a fact-finding mission to these countries.

“We are sending an assessment team to Chad and the Central African Republic. That assessment team should be on the ground early next week. We see that as a real priority because we see how the conflict now is spilling over in the whole region and it’s very important to address that,” he warned.


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