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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Monday 31 January 2005

SUDAN: International community condemns aerial bombardment in Darfur

NAIROBI, 31 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Various international bodies have expressed concern about the bombing of the village of Rahad Kabolong in the western Sudanese state of North Darfur.

According to African Union monitors, government aircraft bombed the village on 26 January, reportedly killing some 100 civilians, among them many women and children.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said in a press statement released on 28 January that he was "deeply disturbed" by the attack. He described it as "the latest in a series of grave ceasefire violations that have resulted in a large number of civilian casualties, the displacement of thousands of people and severe access restrictions for relief workers".

Annan called on the Sudanese government and the rebel movements in Darfur to comply fully and immediately with their commitments under an existing ceasefire agreement and all relevant Security Council resolutions.

Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman of Javier Solana, European Union (EU) high representative for Common, Foreign and Security Policy, said in a 28 January statement that Solana was "shocked [by] this ruthless attack on civilians, apparently carried out by the Sudanese Air Force".

The attack took place one day after a visit by Vice-President Ali Osman al-Taha to Brussels, where he had reassured Solana that his government was determined to pursue a peaceful resolution of the conflict and, in particular, to respect humanitarian and security protocols signed in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Taha had been in Brussels to witness the signing of a "country strategy paper" for Sudan, drawn up by the European Commission (EC) in consultation with the government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army. The paper states that the EC can to start to release European development funds to Sudan, which had been frozen since 1990.

Upon signing the strategy paper, the EC agreed to provide 50 million (US $64.7 million) in immediate financial aid. The release of the full amount of 400 million ($50.8 million), it said, would depend on progress in the implementation of the southern peace agreement, as well as the restoration of peace in Darfur.

Solana condemned the attack in the strongest terms and reiterated "that the evolution of EU-Sudan relations will depend on the actual delivery of the commitments made by the Government of Sudan, not only on its public statements".

In addition, Solana called upon all belligerents in Darfur to avoid any provocation that could lead to further violence and displacement, and hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias, allegedly allied to the government, against rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state.

The conflict has displaced an estimated 1.45 million people and sent another 200,000 fleeing across the border into Chad. The UN has described it as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.


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