UN envoy barred from Darfur camp

Khartoum apologises to UN humanitarian chief and promises access to other camps.

     The conflict in Darfur has displaced more than 2 million people over the last four years [AFP]

    He said his team had received advance permission to visit the camp and had notified the Khartoum government over the incident, which ended with a guard seizing a tape from a UN cameraman as they prepared to leave.

    Dawn Blalock, a UN spokeswoman, said the Sudanese authorities had apologised to Holmes over what it called an individual incident and said he would face no problems visiting another camp for the displaced in Darfur on Sunday.


    She said Holmes accepted the apology.


    Genocide accusation


    Last year Sudan, which denies charges of genocide, hindered a visit to a refugee camp by Holmes' predecessor, Jan Egeland, who was instrumental in bringing the crisis in Darfur to the attention of the UN Security Council in 2004.


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    Sudan has blocked plans to deploy UN peacekeepers and with few signs of relief for the people of Darfur, the government now faces pressure for new international sanctions over its Darfur policy.


    Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has urged fellow European leaders, who met in Berlin on Saturday, to back targeted UN sanctions against the Sudanese government over a conflict which has caused one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.


    In an open letter to several European newspapers, 10 prominent European intellectuals also called for tough sanctions, accusing the 27 EU leaders, meeting to celebrate the bloc's 50th birthday, of cowardice.


    The intellectuals wrote: "How dare we Europeans celebrate this weekend while on a continent some few miles to the south of us the most defenceless, dispossessed and weak are murdered in Sudan?"


    Washington calls the violence genocide and blames Khartoum for backing armed groups blamed for many of the worst atrocities.


    Sudan on Saturday again denied genocide was taking place and lambasted Britain and the United States for seeking sanctions, saying if diplomacy broke down, Sudan could end up like Somalia - in anarchy since a 1991 coup ended central rule.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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