UN expresses concern over Darfur

Western powers oppose Russian proposal for sanctions against anti-Khartoum groups.

    Millions of people have been displaced since the conflict in Darfur broke out in 2003 [AP]

    Sudan criticised
    The 15-member council heard on Tuesday a briefing from Edmond Mulet, the assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, on the deployment of the joint UN-African Union force for Darfur (Unamid).

    Mulet said Unamid "is far from having a meaningful presence on the ground" and was still hampered by "insecurity, inconsistent levels of co-operation with the [Sudanese] government, logistical constraints and force shortfalls".

    After the briefing, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador, who is the  council chair this month, reported that members "expressed profound  concern" about the continued fighting and dire security and  humanitarian environments in Darfur".
    Churkin said members "reiterated the need for the speediest possible deployment of Unamid and urged all parties concerned to co-operate with the UN and the African Union to this end".

    Russian request
    Russia called on members to consider sanctions against the groups challenging peace efforts.

    But the US, Britain and France said that any new sanctions would have to be balanced and target all those blocking progress to end the five-year conflict - including the Sudanese government.

    "The Russian delegation was the only delegation that raised the need of finally contemplating sanctions against the rebel groups who are challenging the peace process and who are refusing to abide by the ceasefire," Churkin said.
    Since the Darfur conflict broke out in February 2003, the UN estimates at least 200,000 people have died and more than two million have been displaced.
    The Sudanese government maintains that 9,000 have been killed.

    Sudan-Chad issue

    In a related development, the Security Council said it looked forward to the "success of the upcoming meeting between the presidents of Sudan and Chad in Dakar[the Sengalese capital]".
    Abdoulaye Wade, the president of Senegal, said that al-Bashir and Idriss  Deby, his Chadian counterpart, would sign their latest peace deal on Wednesday on the eve of a summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Dakar.
    Several such deals have been brokered between the African countries - who accuse each other of supporting rebels across the  volatile border area that includes Darfur - but none has been implemented.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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