UN warns of Darfur truce collapse

Warring parties in Sudan's western Darfur region are showing no urgency in the search for a political solution to a devastating conflict, the top UN envoy in Sudan has said.

    The Darfur conflict has displaced around 1.5 million people

    Jan Pronk said on Wednesday that a vicious circle

    of violence in Darfur could cause the collapse of a ceasefire

    signed in April between two rebel groups and the government.

    "What is lacking is a sense of urgency... the commitment to

    do it [reach an agreement] as soon as possible," he said.

    Government and rebel delegates filed into African

    Union-sponsored talks in Nigeria on Wednesday, but for a third

    consecutive day rebels called for an adjournment within an hour

    of the start of talks.

    Observers said the two rebel groups, who have flown in from

    isolated locations across Africa, were still formulating their

    position at the talks, aimed at ending the conflict that has

    displaced more than 1.5 million people.

    Khartoum has expressed impatience at the stalling tactics.

    Humanitarian crisis

    "We feel they are wasting our time and I think we have been

    patient enough. I think this should be their last chance to show

    whether they are ready to negotiate," said government spokesman

    Ibrahim Muhammad.

    The United Nations says Darfur is one of the world's worst

    humanitarian crises, which has killed around 70,000 people

    through disease and malnutrition since March.

    "We feel they [the Darfur rebels] are wasting our time and I think we have been

    patient enough. I think this should be their last chance to show

    whether they are ready to negotiate"

    Ibrahim Muhammad,
    Sudan government spokesman

    There are no

    reliable figures for how many people have died due to fighting.

    Pronk added a UN Security Council resolution

    demanding that the

    violence stop in Darfur and that a humanitarian

    protocol be

    drawn up in April meant the two sides need not discuss

    the issues of aid access and security.

    These two issues had stalled the

    previous round of talks in Abuja and continued to block progress

    in the Nigerian capital this week.

    "Don't discuss it any more - just do it so that you can

    discuss political issues, political objectives," he said.

    Sanctions

    The Sudan Liberation Army, the main rebel group, insisted on

    Wednesday that the government must agree to disarm militia

    before they would be ready to discuss political issues.

    After years of skirmishes between nomads and

    farmers over scarce resources in arid Darfur, rebels

    took up arms accusing Khartoum of neglect and of using mounted

    Arab militias, known as Janjawid, to loot and burn non-Arab

    villages.

    The Darfur rebels say Khartoum
    is guilty of genocide

    Khartoum denies any link to the Janjawid, calling them outlaws.

    It also says the conflict has been wrongly labelled "a racial war" when it is essentially a dispute over land.

    The United Nations has threatened Sudan with possible

    oil industry sanctions if it fails to stop the violence

    .

    Pronk, who leaves on Wednesday for New York to give a

    monthly briefing on Darfur, said ordinary civilians and aid

    workers were suffering as talks dragged on.

    Shaky ceasefire

    "Insecurity and violence and violation of human rights is on

    the rise. We are hardly able to stop it and parties do not

    seem to be willing to stop it on the ground," he said.

    Pronk added the 

    rebels, and not the government, were impeding aid access to the

    diseased, hungry and destitute refugees.

    "Insecurity and violence and violation of human rights is on

    the rise. We are hardly able to stop it and parties do not

    seem to be willing to stop it on the ground"

    Jan Pronk,
    UN envoy to Sudan

    He also warned if the talks in Abuja did not make progress,

    the ceasefire, which each side has accused the other of

    breaking, could collapse in Darfur.

    "It is officially still a ceasefire, but in practice there

    are constant attacks," he said.

    Rebels said 26 civilians died in a bombing raid on Wednesday

    morning in Allaiet, in eastern Darfur,

    But the government said

    the attack happened three days ago,

    its forces were only

    responding to a rebel attack and that those killed were rebel

    fighters.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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