Sudan lifts restrictions on North Darfur

Sudan says it has lifted all restrictions on aid workers and revoked a state of emergency in the troubled North Darfur state, after rebel fighters pulled out from a town they occupied last week.

    The UN has condemned a rebel attack last week on Tawilla

    The governor of North Darfur state, Usman Kibir, told visiting European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, that all restrictions on aid work due to the emergency had been lifted.


    "The situation is very normal now," Kibir said on Saturday. "We are removing all the restrictions on humanitarian aid that were imposed because of the attacks on Tawilla," he said.


    Michel said security in Darfur had improved.

     "The security situation is of course very sensitive but I think there's a very slow improvement," he said.


    He declined to say whether the government had done enough to rein in mounted Arab militia, known locally as Janjawid, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.


    UN condemns rebels


    Rwandan troops are part of the
    African Union monitoring force

    The UN condemned the attacks on Tawilla town last week, where rebels took control and killed dozens of policemen. The international community gathered in the Nigerian capital Abuja said the move violated security protocols signed earlier this month between the warring parties.


    Following the attack, the World Food Programme said it had withdrawn all its staff to the North Darfur capital of El Fasher and frozen all operations, leaving 300,000 refugees out of reach.


    The UN says the rebellion has triggered one of the world's worst humanitarian crises with more than 1.6 million people forced from their homes in Darfur.


    Sanctions threatened


    The UN has threatened Sudan with sanctions if it fails to stop the violence, which the United States calls genocide. The World Health Organisation estimates more than 70,000 people have died in Darfur since March from malnutrition and disease.


    While the government admits arming some militias to fight the rebels, it denies any link to the Janjawid, calling them outlaws.


    Michel will now travel to the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the scene of talks to settle a separate, bloodier conflict in Sudan's south.


    He said a southern peace deal, due by the end of the year, would be key to solving the problems in the rest of Africa's largest country.


    "If there is an agreement, we have to take this agreement as a momentum in order to resolve the global package of problems which is existing in Darfur," he said, adding he saw goodwill and a willingness on the part of the government to take action. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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