Darfur volunteers seized by rebels

Rebels from Sudan's western Darfur kidnapped 22 volunteers who have joined a programme to vaccinate people affected by fighting in the region, according to Sudanese officials.

    There are hundreds of aid workers in the Darfur area

    The head of Sudan's vaccination programme and emergency

    operations office, Hasan Idris, said rebels from the Justice

    and Equality Movement (JEM) abducted the volunteers on Sunday.

    "We have no information regarding where these volunteers

    have been taken," he said on

    Monday, adding they had been working in Adwa, in the

    Shiariya area of Southern Darfur state.

    JEM officials were not immediately available to comment.

    Sudan said on Monday rebels had kidnapped eight World Food

    Programme (WFP) and Sudanese Red Crescent workers in Northern

    Darfur state. The WFP confirmed those workers were missing and

    set up a crisis centre to try to find them.

    The United Nations' top envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk, is to

    address the Security Council on 2 September on the Khartoum

    government's compliance with UN resolution to provide

    more security and aid access in Darfur.

    After years of low-intensity conflict between nomads

    and farmers

    over scarce resources in arid Darfur, rebels

    revolted last year, accusing the Sudanese government of arming "militias"

    known as Janjawid to loot and burn homes.

    Attacks on civilians

    Khartoum admits arming some fighters to combat the rebels,

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

    They also accuse the rebels of starting the conflict and committing atrocities.

    More than a million people have fled their homes, with about

    200,000 refugees now in neighbouring Chad, triggering what the

    United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

    Obasanjo says Khartoum has
    launched attacks on civilians

    International officials say the violence in the region is

    far from over.

    Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is currently

    chairman of the African Union, said on Monday the AU monitors

    had confirmed accusations by Darfur rebels that Khartoum

    launched fresh attacks on civilians last week.

    Obasanjo said he had written to Sudanese President Umar

    Hasan al-Bashir asking him to ensure all attacks on civilians

    by government forces and Janjawid stopped, to avoid

    undermining peace talks being held in the Nigerian capital

    Abuja.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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