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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
12 February 2007

SUDAN: No let-up in attacks on Darfur aid agencies

NAIROBI, 12 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - Attacks against international non-governmental organisations and humanitarian workers in the Sudanese region of North Darfur have created "an unsustainable level of insecurity" for operations, relief workers said on Monday.

The European Union Council, in a statement issued from Brussels, said it was alarmed by the impact of the deteriorating security situation on the humanitarian and human rights situation in Darfur.

In condemning the killing of an African Union police officer in Kutum on 1 February and the arrest of international humanitarian aid workers by Sudanese police in Nyala on 19 January, the Council demanded that all parties refrain from violence against civilians and aid organisations.

"The Council remains gravely concerned about the security situation in Darfur and condemns continued ceasefire violations by all parties," the statement noted. "It denounces in particular the bombing of areas in Northern Darfur by the Sudanese Air Force, which disrupted the preparations for a meeting of Sudan Liberation Movement commanders despite the fact that the Sudanese government had earlier declared its consent to the meeting."

The Council resolution came as a five-person fact-finding mission from the United Nations Human Rights Council headed to Sudan, despite Sudanese misgivings.

The mission is led by Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and co-founder of the Nobel Women's Initiative in 2006. Sources in Khartoum, however, said the government had objected to the mission, saying it was unwilling to grant visas to some of its members.

According to aid workers in Darfur, attacks on staff and property and at least five car-jackings had seriously affected operations over the past week, prompting some NGOs to consider scaling back activities.

On Wednesday, an NGO vehicle was hijacked near Fanga Suk in eastern Jebel Marra by four armed men, who abducted the drivers and beat one before releasing them. Another was hijacked in Zam Zam after men armed with guns and grenades forcibly entered an NGO compound and detained staff.

A day earlier, unidentified armed men attempted to grab another vehicle at Mnara village, near the Zam Zam camp’s check-point close to El Fasher. At the same time, envoys from the United Nations and African Union (AU) arrived in Khartoum on Monday in a bid to revive peace talks in the troubled western Sudanese region of Darfur.

Several other attacks and car-jackings took place in South and West Darfur. On Friday, three armed man attacked displaced women from Hassa Hissa camp, West Darfur, while they were fetching firewood and sexually assaulted one before abducting her.

The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has also come under attack - four armed men confronted its vehicles and wounded one AMIS officer during an exchange of fire near Tine water point at the Chadian border. The attackers, however, failed to snatch a vehicle mounted with a heavy machine gun.

Calling on the Sudanese government to cooperate with the preparations for the deployment of the hybrid force, the EU said the Darfur conflict was adding to instability in the wider region, in particular Chad and the Central African Republic.

The Darfur conflict started in 2003, when government forces and allied militias started fighting rebel groups seeking greater autonomy for the region. Aid agencies estimate that 200,000 people have died and at least two million more have been displaced by the violence.

In August 2006, the UN Security Council voted to send blue berets to bolster AMIS. Sudan, however, rejected a UN presence, saying it would only allow technical support personnel to be deployed to help the African force.

On Monday, UN envoy Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, the AU envoy, arrived in Khartoum to try to revive the May 2006 peace deal signed by the government and some rebel groups.



This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2007

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