Sept 28, 2005 (UNITED NATIONS) — The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed "serious concern" at reports of increased violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region and reiterated their full support for Nigerian-hosted peace talks.
- Teenage Sudan Liberation Army fighters wearing amulets ( believed to bring good luck and protect against evil the person who wears them) look on while in the rebel held village of Bodong in North Darfur, March 3, 2005. (Reuters).
In a statement by its president for this month, Philippine Ambassador Lauro Baja, the council "emphasized the need for all parties to show calm and restraint and fully to honor the ceasefire, and urged that progress in the talks not suffer due to violence in Darfur and to divisions within the two sides."
Renewed fighting in Darfur is undermining a ceasefire between government and rebel movements which was agreed in April 2004 and which had largely held despite sporadic attacks.
The Sudanese government and the rebel groups are holding a new round of peace negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria in a bid to end the 30-month-old civil war which has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.
But the talks have stalled as both sides continue to trade accusations over ceasefire violations, and the main rebel group is split over participation in the negotiations.
The security council urged the Khartoum regime and the two Darfur insurgent groups to negotiate in good faith in order to reach a peace deal by the end of this year.
It also slammed rising banditry in Darfur as documented in UN chief Kodi Annan’s monthly report on the conflict.
"Banditry has become the main threat to civilians and to humanitarian activities in Darfur, with highway robbery, kidnapping, burglary, theft and armed attacks occuring on a regular basis," Annan’s report said.
Meanwhile in Geneva, UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland on Wednesday warned that relief operations in Darfur may have to be halted because of an upsurge in violence in the region.
Egeland, the overall humanitarian aid coordinator for the United Nations, said the risks faced by the world body’s 11,000 relief workers in Darfur could soon be too great.
The Darfur conflict pits two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality movement, against Sudanese forces and the Janjaweed, a government-backed militia which has been accused of carrying out unprovoked attacks on civilians.