Home | News    Thursday 16 June 2005

UN Annan demands Sudan start disarming militias in Darfur

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By NICK WADHAMS

UNITED NATIONS, June 16, 2005 (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan demanded that Sudan’s government disarm the militias terrorizing people in Sudan’s Darfur region.

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UN SG Kofi Annan

In a report to the Security Counci on Wednesday, Annan warned that militias were still roaming Darfur, chasing people from their homes and harassing others in camps. He put the responsibility for curbing them squarely on the government.

"This must stop," Annan said in the seven-page report. If it doesn’t, he warned, "the culture of impunity that has taken hold in Darfur will become a critical obstacle to any reconciliation process."

The report on Darfur comes two weeks after Annan visited the region and called for boosting the responsibilities of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur.

Meanwhile, talks between Sudan’s government and Darfur’s rebels are taking place in the Nigerian capital Abuja, but have made little headway.

At least 180,000 people have died in Darfur — many from hunger and disease — and about 2 million others have fled their homes to escape the conflict, which erupted when rebels took up arms against what they saw as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin.

The government is accused of responding with a counterinsurgency campaign in which government-backed Arab militiamen known as Janjaweed committed wide-scale abuses against the African population.

"As we have seen in past months, the government is capable of acting against the militia," Annan said.

In his report, Annan said it was clear that the security situation had improved since his last visit to Darfur nearly a year ago. Still, he said, the month of May saw more clashes than April did.

He spread blame equally between militia and Darfur’s rebels. He faulted the rebels for conducting small-scale attacks on government convoys or police and army personnel, saying they "must take responsibility for their actions over the past month."

While pro-government militias didn’t launch any large-scale assaults, they continue to attack and harass civilians, and rapes continue to be reported, Annan said.

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