Britain welcomes Sudanese peace accord

London- UK (PANA) -- Britain has welcomed the humanitarian cease-fire agreement signed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Sudan Justice and Equality Movement, which was signed in N'djamena, Chad on 8 April.
In a press release issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London Thursday, the British government described the 45-day agreement as a vital step forward in resolving the crisis in Darfur.
"We are very grateful to the Government of Chad for its role in mediating the cease-fire talks.
"We call on the parties to implement this agreement immediately, and to continue their efforts to reach a just and sustainable solution to the problems in Darfur," the release said.
However, the British Foreign Office expressed concerns that the humanitarian situation in Darfur continued to raise eyebrows pointing out that there was still much to be done in all sectors especially food, water, and shelter.
"We will continue to monitor the situation in Darfur very closely, and remain ready to support the parties as they implement the cease-fire agreement," the government said.
The British Department for International Development has contributed over £8million in response to the crisis.
It has also seconded four Humanitarian Affairs Officers to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Meanwhile, the UK-based human rights group, Amnesty International (AI), has called on the international community to put pressure on the Sudanese government to take urgent measures to address human rights abuses in Darfur.
According to Amnesty International, the cease-fire agreement of 8 April was an important step but remained largely insufficient, if the government did not immediately give access to humanitarian agencies and international human rights monitors, especially those trained to deal with issues relating to sexual violence.
AI said it had received "countless reports of women being raped by the Janjawid militia".
"We have also received unconfirmed reports that many women and girls have been abducted to be used as sexual slaves or domestic workers," Amnesty International pointed out.
"The long term effects of these crimes can be seen in countries like Rwanda where many women and children remain traumatised and live with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, following the systematic rape during the genocide 10 years ago," AI cautioned.
The 8 April agreement provides for a 45-day cease-fire and guarantees humanitarian access to civilian populations.
The parties agreed to ensure that all armed groups under their control comply with this agreement, and the Sudanese Government has committed itself to neutralising the armed militias known as the Janjawid.
Cease-fire talks between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Sudan Justice and Equality Movement began on 31 March 2004 following mediation by the Chadian government.
The two rebel groups resorted to arms in February 2003 allegedly to press the government in Khartoum to allocate more developmental funds to their remote area in western Sudan.

15 april 2004 23:34:00




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