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Fresh round of attacks on civilians hits South Darfur - UN mission

8 February 2007 Armed men assaulted and attempted to abduct a group of female internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had been on their way to collect firewood in Darfur, the latest violent incident to plague the war-torn region, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported today.

The Mission said Arab nomads attacked the IDPs about four kilometres from Kalma camp in South Darfur on Tuesday, and tried to abduct one of the women but failed.

In separate incidents in South Darfur, locals broke into the office of a non-governmental organization (NGO) at Kass and looted it during a demonstration, while a fire broke out at a camp for IDPs in El Sereif, near the provincial capital of Nyala.

The incidents occurred as the joint commission established to oversee last year’s Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) issued a communiqué yesterday condemning the recent surge in attacks against humanitarian workers and members of the African Union (AU) monitoring force known as AMIS.

The communiqué, which followed a meeting of the commission in North Darfur, was signed by representatives of the UN, the AU, the European Union, the United States as members, and Canada, France, the League of Arab States, the Netherlands, Egypt and the United Kingdom as observers.

Last May the Sudanese Government signed the DPA with some of the rebel groups it had been fighting in Darfur, an impoverished and arid region on the country’s western flank. But fighting has raged on since then, mainly against the rebels that did not sign the pact.

Some 4 million people now depend on humanitarian aid, and at least 200,000 have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes because of the ongoing fights between the Government, allied militias and the rebels.

Earlier this week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that his Special Envoy for Darfur Jan Eliasson, together with African Union (AU) counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim, would travel to Sudan next week to try to revive the stalled peace process.

Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim will travel on Monday to the capital, Khartoum, and to Darfur itself for talks with the Government and with representatives of those rebel groups that did not sign the DPA.

Mr. Ban is waiting for a response from the Sudanese Government to a letter he sent last month outlining the details of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur, its command structure and funding. Khartoum has already agreed in principle to such a force replacing AMIS.

Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno today briefed the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the work of UNMIS and the implementation of the comprehensive peace deal ending the separate conflict between Sudan’s north and south.

In that report, Mr. Ban said a peaceful resolution of the Darfur conflict could go a long way towards restoring trust in the January 2005 peace deal that ended the 21-year civil war with the south.

“Implementation has not progressed as effectively as we hoped,” Mr. Ban wrote, noting several violations of the ceasefire, including clashes in the town of Malakal in Upper Nile state in November that left at least 150 people dead.

Both parties in southern Sudan must stop using militias as proxy forces and make the integration of armed other groups a priority, he added.

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