EU threatens sanctions against Sudan

The European Union has said it will impose sanctions on Sudan if it does not take adequate steps to disarm Arab militias accused of pursuing a campaign of murder, rape and pillage in its western Darfur region.

The UN says 10,000 people are dying every month inside camps
The UN says 10,000 people are dying every month inside camps

The United Nations underlined the dramatic effects of the conflict in Darfur in a report on Monday which said up to 10,000 people were dying each month from disease and violence inside camps for those displaced from the region.

“In the immediate future the EU will … take appropriate measures, including sanctions, against the government of Sudan and all other parties … if no tangible progress is achieved in this respect,” EU foreign ministers said in a statement on Monday.

Dutch Foreign Minster Bernard Bot, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, told a briefing the measures could be taken “in the coming weeks”.

Attacks on increase

The latest UN situation report on violence in the vast and arid western region of Sudan – where the world body says the world’s worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding – said looting and attacks were on the increase.

‘In the immediate future the EU will … take appropriate measures, including sanctions’

EU foreign ministers

A study of settlements in the west and the north of Darfur by the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Sudanese government, pointed to a monthly toll of 6000-10,000 out of a displaced population of 1.2 million people.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Sunday Sudan’s efforts to rein in the Janjawid militia were not working and Washington would work for sanctions against Khartoum.

The US last week circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Sudan’s budding oil industry which pumps 320,000 barrels per day, if it did not stop abuses in the region.

UN arms embargo

In a letter to the Security Council, the New York-based international rights group Human Rights Watch called for a UN arms embargo on the Janjawid to be extended to government forces, which it said shared camps with the militia.

Rebels in Darfur launched a revolt in early 2003 after years of skirmishes between farmers and nomads over land. The rebels accuse Khartoum of arming the Janjawid to crush them and their civilian sympathisers, a charge the government denies.

The latest UN report says the situation in Darfur is worsening

The latest UN report says the
situation in Darfur is worsening

But several Security Council members have objected to the sanctions threat. China, one of Sudan’s oil customers and a permanent member of the council, threatened to use its veto power against the resolution if changes were not made.

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in Oslo on Monday Washington was willing to tone down the wording of the resolution.

“I do expect some modifications,” Armitage said after talks with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen. “We want as strong a resolution as possible, but the resolution will only be as strong as the traffic will bear.”

Khartoum responsibility

But Washington would insist Khartoum had to be “part of the solution” to the Darfur problem and accept its responsibility for bringing the Janjawid under control.

The UN  says more than a million people have been forced to flee their homes and up to 50,000 people have been killed.

‘The increased trend in insecurity … continued this week’

UN situation report

A UN situation report sent to Reuters on Monday said “the increased trend in insecurity [in Darfur] … continued this week with approximately six serious security incidents”, mostly armed attacks to loot commercial and aid agency vehicles.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mustafa Usman Ismail reiterated that his government was committed to ending the conflict.

“The government of the Sudan pledges to honour its commitments and obligations of getting the situation in Darfur back to normalcy,” he said in a statement on a visit to Seoul.

Government workers released

Rebels released three government workers on Monday, including a Darfur tribal leader who is also a senior official of a committee formed to end abductions in Sudan, an official said. Sudan said rebels had kidnapped them last week.

Andrew Natsios, administrator of US Agency for International Development, was due to visit Darfur this week and meet officials in Khartoum.

“I’m basically here to assess the current state of the humanitarian relief effort and talk with the leadership of the country,” he said.

Source : Reuters

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