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Darfur Ops Suspended Due To Continuing Fighting

UN Suspends Relief Operations In Part Of Darfur Due To Continuing Fighting

The United Nations has suspended relief operations in a southern sector of Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region because of continued fighting and a reported build up of rival armed groups that has raised serious concerns in the humanitarian community.

The UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) said the fighting affected areas around Nyala in South Darfur State, and it cited reports from humanitarian agencies that Arab militias had entered sections of Kalma camp two days ago, randomly shooting into the air and looting personal items from some huts and livestock belonging to some new arrivals.

A helicopter patrol of the African Union (AU) ceasefire monitoring operation reported sighting two villages totally burned down.

The Mission reported that the situation remained tense and unpredictable in all three provinces of Darfur, a region the size of France, in a conflict which the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Some 1.65 million people have been displaced by the conflict, in which Janjaweed militias stand accused of killing and raping thousands of villagers after rebels took up arms last year to demand a greater share of economic resources.

In North Darfur a passenger bus was looted by armed people in military uniform on camel back and there are also unconfirmed reports of movements of tribal militia west of Tawila. Reports also indicate that some 20 villages were abandoned during recent fighting between Government forces and the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

In West Darfur an unidentified gunman shot at a police patrol team in El Geneina town. The police returned fire and nobody was injured.

Talks aimed at ending the conflict have resumed in Abuja, Nigeria, with the participation of the Government and both rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A). AU mediators proposed convening tomorrow a meeting of the Joint Ceasefire Commission established under a ceasefire accord reached in April.

On Sudan’s other major conflict, in the south, where the Government and rebels are negotiating to reach a final accord by 31 December, the UN Mission reported that 420,000 displaced persons and 130,000 refugees have returned home so far this year, encouraged by the relative calm and promising prospects for a comprehensive peace.

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