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INTERVIEW: UN alarmed by growing violence and displacement in Darfur

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April 9, 2014 (KHARTOUM) –The United Nations has concern over the escalation of violence in Sudan’s western region of Darfur and its impact on civilians and relief efforts.

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UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator Ali al-Zaatari takes part in a press conference in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on 13 March 2013 (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview with Sudan Tribune, the UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Ali al-Zaatari, said the killings in Darfur must be stopped, describing the situation there as “too troubled”.

Zaatari was speaking just hours before he was scheduled to travel to the North Darfur state capital, El-Fasher, as part of a delegation that included the envoys of the United States and European Union.

He said that reports reveal increased rates of displacement and continuing rape incidents committed by different culprits who are sometimes described as people in military uniforms or Arabs on camels and horses and in other cases there is no specific description.

“It is difficult to say that a specific party that is committing these acts because anyone can wear any uniform and commit the crime, but the situation has become so common to the point where it should not be tolerated whether religiously or morally or conscience-wise,”Zaatari said.

The governor of North Darfur Osman Yusuf Kibir told the delegation of UN officials and EU and US ambassadors that tension has returned to areas west of El-Fasher.

He accused rebels of attacking a group of shepherds, killing some and looting their camels after which they headed out towards the area east of the mountain.

It was reported that four shepherds were killed in the state by unknown gunmen as well as two others in a separate incident inside Zamzam IDP camp.

Kibir added that outlaws took advantage of the incident to attack villages and citizens and their property including Zamzam IDP camp.

He cleared the Rapid Support Force (RSF) from any violations, saying that it was outlaws committing it according to testimony of citizens. He affirmed that they have undertaken a package of measures to contain the situation and enforce the law, as well as preserve lives and property of citizens.

Zaatari called for the latest crisis to be resolved through dialogue and negotiations rather than violence. He also welcomed president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s recent call for national dialogue.

He confirmed the readiness of the UN and other actors of the international community to help the people of Darfur in overcoming adversity, pointing to the large displacement witnessed in some areas as a result of ethnic conflicts and clashes between the government and the armed movements adding that necessitated assessing the situation on the ground in order to identify needs.

Last month, the head of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), Tijani El-Sissi, warned against the rapidly deteriorating security situation in North and South Darfur states, criticising government for failing to restore security in the region, which has witnessed rebellion since 2003.

Sissi further said that insecurity in North and South Darfurcontinued to hampers the implementation of development projects.

“What happens there will not be a catalyst to start any reconstruction effort in those areas,” he said.

(ST)

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