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Darfur: 300,000 Displaced Persons Cut Off

Darfur: 300,000 Displaced Persons Cut Off From All Aid Following Rebel Attack

The United Nations emergency feeding agency said today that the security situation in western Sudan’s Darfur region was deteriorating rapidly with 300,000 displaced people cut off from all aid following a rebel attack earlier this week in breach of ceasefire accords signed with the government.

The UN World Food Programme WFP) and other humanitarian agencies have flown their staffers out of North Darfur after the rebel attack on Tawila and an air raid the following day when a bomb fell only 50 metres from the nutritional centre of one humanitarian agency, WFP spokesman Simon Pluess told a news briefing in Geneva.

At the same time Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Sudan Jan Pronk called on all sides to immediately halt hostilities in what the UN has termed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, in which nearly 1.7 million people have been displaced and Janjaweed militias stand accused of killing and raping thousands of villagers after the rebels took up arms last year to demand a greater share of economic resources.

“The parties have to understand that neither the AU (African Union) nor the international community are prepared to sustain a process based on empty promises,” Mr. Pronk said. “The forthcoming days will be the test of their seriousness. If they fail to live up to their commitments, they have to realize that they will be held accountable by the AU Peace and Security Council and the United Nations’ Security Council.”

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While welcoming a reiteration by government and rebel officials at a meeting in N’Djamena, capital of neighbouring Chad, yesterday to abide by the ceasefire accords signed in April and earlier this month, he urged all sides “to see that this commitment is translated into concrete action on the ground by immediately halting hostilities.”

It was the latest in a series of appeals by Mr. Pronk since the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) seized the town of Tawila in North Darfur on 22 November in what he called a clear violation of the accords. He reiterated his call to the government to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from air raids in countering the rebel attacks.

“The recent attacks by the SLA on Tawila and Kalma camp were acts of revenge for grievances pre-dating the Abuja Agreements,” he said, referring to the humanitarian and security accords signed in the Nigerian capital earlier this month in an effort to set the April ceasefire agreement signed in N’Djamena back on track. “That’s not acceptable. The Abuja Accords were meant to be a fresh start.”

Mr. Pluess said that there were also reports of attacks by Janjaweed in West Darfur and by rebel groups. But despite the insecurity, WFP had managed to distribute 12,000 tons of food at its distribution points to feed another 600,000 people.

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