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Situation In Sudan Calm Following ICC Announcement

Situation in Sudan calm following International Criminal Court (ICC) announcement, United Nations missions report

15 July 2008 - The two United Nations peacekeeping missions in Sudan have reported that the situation there is calm, following yesterday's announcement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he is seeking an indictment against President Omar Al-Bashir for war crimes committed in Darfur.

Three years after being request by the Security Council to investigate atrocities committed in the war-ravaged Sudanese region, Luis Moreno-Ocampo presented evidence against Mr. Al-Bashir to The Hague-based Court in relation to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The joint UN-African Union mission in Darfur - known as UNAMID - said today that security patrols and humanitarian escorts carried out by peacekeepers, along with aid activities, continued as usual.

The mission's forces conducted nearly one dozen security and confidence-building patrols throughout Darfur. Aid workers carried on with their operations, including food distribution, water support, deliveries of non-food items, health care and the protection of civilians.

In the country's capital, Khartoum, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) today reported that it continues to work both with and alongside its Sudanese partners to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement - the 2005 pact ending the country's long-running north-south civil war.

The mission said that three protests, all reportedly peaceful, related to yesterday's ICC announcement were held in El Obeid, Kassala and Khartoum, where demonstrations took place outside the premises of the UN Development Programme's offices. No demonstrations were reported in Darfur today.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his deep disappointment in the lack of progress made towards bringing an end to the Darfur conflict in his most recent 90-day report on UNAMID and the status of the political process.

"The parties continue to pursue the path of military confrontation instead of dialogue, the deployment of UNAMID is far behind schedule, sexual and gender-based violence continues with impunity and heightened insecurity and banditry have severely hampered our ability to provide life-sustaining humanitarian assistance to nearly 2.5 million civilians in need," he wrote.

Mr. Ban stressed that violence will not help the parties reach their goals, but instead will only serve to hurt civilians who have voiced their desires to return to their homes.

Measures being taken to address the situation - including calling on the sides to cease fighting, deploying blue helmets and providing humanitarian aid - are ongoing, but the parties are still pursuing military options, he cautioned.

Further, banditry and hijackings have thwarted the efforts of aid workers to deliver much-needed relief items, and "as a result, the international community struggles to perform even the most basic work to protect civilians and bring them humanitarian assistance in this harsh and difficult environment," the report noted.

The Secretary-General also highlighted the role that Chad-Sudan tensions play in the Darfur conflict and in the insecurity on both sides of the border between the two nations.

On 30 June, he appointed Djibril Yipènè Bassolé, who has been Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso since 2007, as the new joint AU-UN Chief Mediator for Darfur.

"The newly appointed Chief Mediator will face the enormous challenge of having to take all of these complicating factors into consideration as he works to reinvigorate the peace process," Mr. Ban wrote, adding that his success rests on "the will of the parties to resolve their difference through dialogue" as well as international support.

Some 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003, either through direct combat or disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, while another 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes.

ENDS

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