Monday, August 16, 2004

Top UN official concerned about 'lack of progress' in Darfur

The top UN official in Sudan has expressed concern about a "lack of progress on the ground" in reining in marauding Arab militias in Sudan's western Darfur region, the United Nations said.

The remarks by Jan Pronk were released in New York about two weeks before a Security Council deadline for Sudan to demonstrate that it is serious about improving the security situation in Darfur or face unspecified sanctions.

Mr Pronk is UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's special representative for Sudan.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail told reporters in the capital Khartoum that the Government had designated safe areas in Darfur, including the capitals of each of Darfur's three states - Nyala, el-Fasher and Geneina - and the surrounding areas. The towns of Sani, Deleiva and Abu, along with the area of Ajouraha in South Darfur state and the area of Mornei in West Darfur state were also designated safe areas, which the Government has pledged to secure by the end of August.

"We have identified these areas and implementation will begin tomorrow," said Mr Ismail, adding that monitors deployed by the African Union would be asked to head to those areas.

The UN statement said Mr Pronk "welcomed the steps being taken by the Government and indicated the crucial phase will be the one when it could be demonstrated that these actions have borne fruit on the ground, when substantial, verifiable and substantial improvement of the security situation in the selected areas will be achieved". "He (Mr Pronk) expressed concern about the lack of progress registered so far on the ground and at the fact that the Janjaweed militia was still active around the IDP camps and continued to be a threat," the statement said, referring to camps for the so-called internally displaced persons driven from their homes by the conflict in Darfur.

Rights groups and the rebels accuse Khartoum of arming Arab militias known as the Janjaweed -- a term derived from the Arabic for "devils on horseback" -- to loot and burn African farming villages as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The Sudanese Government denies the charge and says the Janjaweed are outlaws.

The United Nations calls Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and says 50,000 people have been killed and at least 1 million more driven from their homes since two rebel groups took up arms against the Government in February 2003.

In the UN statement, Mr Pronk also complained that UN staff and relief workers had been barred from Kalma camp, east of the South Darfur state capital Nyala, since camp residents beat and stabbed to death on Friday a man they accused of being a Janjaweed fighter. Mr Pronk was "very concerned" that aid workers had been denied access to the camp, whose residents, including malnourished children, required daily assistance, the statement said. Mr Pronk had raised the issue with the Sudanese authorities and "hopes that full access to the camp will be granted as soon as possible", the statement said.

In Solidarity 16 August 04


Kenya faces hunger crisis
The United Nations is appealing for help for up to 2 million people facing hunger in Kenya. The Government in Nairobi has declared the food crisis a national disaster. Food stocks are running low and erratic rains have left crops stunted.

Sudan launches fresh helicopter attacks in Darfur: UN
Sudan has carried out fresh helicopter attacks in Darfur, worsening an already desperate humanitarian situation, while Arab militia targeted refugees trying to escape the conflict, the United Nations said.

African Union may send 2,000 troops to Darfur
The African Union (AU) may boost the number of troops deployed to Sudan's troubled Darfur region to 2,000, subject to the move gaining approval at a meeting of its members, a spokesman said.

Sudan rejects UN resolution deadline
Sudan has condemned a 30 day deadline set by the United Nations Security Council for action on Darfur, but has said it would implement a 90 day program as agreed earlier with UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

African Union considers Sudan peacekeeping mission
Intervention considered: The African Union says the Sudanese Government has failed to stop the bloodshed.

Annan urges more aid for Sudan
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is pressing governments for more aid for the troubled Darfur region, as the Security Council considers threatening the Sudanese Government with sanctions over its role in the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Sudan vows to resist Darfur intervention
A crowd of boys welcomes the arrival of a convoy of Red Cross trucks carrying food and supplies to a camp between Chad and Sudan.

Annan, African leaders to hold Sudan talks
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will hold talks with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and other African leaders on peace initiatives in Sudan and Ivory Coast on Thursday, a Nigerian spokeswoman said.

Sudan warns against foreign intervention
Sudan has warned it will use force against any attempt at outside military intervention in the crisis-torn Darfur region, while rebels called for the quick arrival of foreign troops.

Sudanese refugees flood into Chad
Aid agencies in Chad are bracing for the arrival of more refugees from Sudan's devastated Darfur region. The United Nations estimates that up to 200,000 refugees have already crossed into Chad from Sudan and fears that as many again are on their way.

US threatens Sudan with UN sanctions
The United States has circulated a United Nations resolution threatening sanctions against the Sudan government if Khartoum did not prosecute Arab militia leaders in the western Darfur region.

UN sanctions for Sudan 'unlikely'
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan says Sudan has made little progress in curbing marauding militias in the Darfur region but diplomats said sanctions against Khartoum were unlikely.

Sudan rejects human rights report on Darfur
The Sudanese government has slammed a report by Human Rights Watch over the strife-torn western region of Darfur and accused the organisation of attempting to provoke the UN Security Council into imposing sanctions against the country.

African Union tries to revive failed Darfur talks
The African Union (AU) says it has made fresh contact with the government of Sudan and Darfur rebels in an effort to revive peace talks that broke down over the weekend.

Health catastrophe looms in Sudan: UN
A malnourished Sudanese refugee child lies at a feeding centre in Iriba Town in Chad. The World Health Organisation has warned a major health catastrophe could erupt in western Sudan's Darfur region if the needed funds, personnel and supplies were not made available.

Sudan decrees end to relief restrictions
The Sudanese Government, under international pressure to help displaced people in the western region of Darfur, has ordered an end to restrictions on the movement of relief organisations and imports of relief supplies.

Sudan urged to take urgent action to protect refugees
The UN is urging the Sudanese Government to take urgent action to protect more than 1 million refugees.

Terrorism obscuring world crises, Sir William says
The former governor-general, Sir William Deane, has advised Australians not to lose perspective about international crises during the ongoing focus on terrorism.