Sudan: Clashes in North Darfur Prompt Warning
Sudan: Clashes in North Darfur Prompt Humanitarian Warning from UN Mission
New York, Dec 5 2006 4:00PM
The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) warned today that humanitarian agencies may have to scale back their operations in North Darfur amid growing concerns following several days of clashes in the provincial capital of El Fasher.
In a news update from Khartoum, the Mission said recent clashes between rebel groups and Government forces and allied militias, as well as the increased presence of Janjaweed militia and other armed movements, have destabilized the already volatile situation.
UNMIS added that UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in North Darfur will have to seriously curtail their operations – often the only support that the region’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) have – if the security situation continues to deteriorate.
The clashes in and around El Fasher follow a reported series of attacks by Government forces and an allied militia on a North Darfur village on Friday and Saturday that culminated in the burning of the homes and the looting of the residents’ livestock.
More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed and another 2 million forced to flee their homes because of fighting across Darfur, a vast and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank, since 2003.
Last week the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council agree to extend the mandate of its peace mission to Darfur, known as AMIS, by six months until the end of June next year.
That extension was endorsed several weeks after participants at a meeting in Addis Ababa – including the UN, the AU and the Sudanese Government – agreed to a three-phase process of enhanced UN support to AMIS, culminating in a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping operation taking over in Darfur.
Today the Security Council also received a briefing from Dimitriy Titov, Director of the Africa Division in the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), on the situation along the volatile Sudanese-Chadian border.
Meanwhile, in Geneva the Human Rights Council announced today that it will hold a special session on the situation in Darfur next Tuesday. The special session is being convened after a request from Finland and has been signed by 33 of the Council’s 47 Member States. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also issued a strong call for a special session on Darfur.