UN: Official urges more support for Darfur peace process

New York, US (PANA) - UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous has called for more international support for the Darfur peace process, following stepped-up rebel attacks, clashes fuelled by local political rivalries and mass displacement sparked by the abuses of a pro-government militia.

Mr. Ladsous also appealed to the UN Security Council and its African Union (AU) counterpart for political support to move the warring factions towards lasting peace.

"Once again, Darfur finds itself at a crossroads. Since the beginning of 2014, new dynamics have emerged, with considerable impact on the civilian population," the UN peacekeeping chief said as he briefed the UN Security Council on the latest developments in the strife-torn western region of Sudan, as well as on the work of the joint AU-UN mission there, known as UNAMID.

"Darfur is currently experiencing renewed violence after a relative lull, marked by massive movements of displaced persons and by very notable and strong discord among local allies of the Sudanese Government," he said.

He said the growing political rivalries were most evident in North Darfur, adding: "At stake is not merely the local government, but also the hoarding of mineral resources, particularly gold deposits.

"All of this has led to fighting between the groups and serious loss of civilian life."

He said the ongoing activities of the pro-Government militia known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF), has further complicated the process by contributing to further endangering civilians, exposing them to significant risks particularly in North and South Darfur.

"At the same time, the rebel groups that have not signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) have stepped up their attacks against Government positions, particularly in the Jebel Marra area of North Darfur, and sporadically in parts of South Darfur.

"In response, the Sudanese armed forces have likewise stepped up their operations, including employing aerial bombings, which have led to the death and displacement of civilians," the UN official said.

Describing the terrible impact of one such operation carried out by the Sudanese army and the RSF militia on 19 and 27 Feb. in an area known as Um Gunya, located some 50 kilometres southeast of Nyala, Mr. Ladsous said that, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between 40,000 and 50,000 civilians were forced to flee the

"All of this has led to a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Darfur. OCHA believes that the number of persons displaced since January exceeds some 370,000," he said, adding that two-thirds of those persons remain unable to return to their homes.

"In all, there are estimated to be more than 2 million IDPs in Darfur, making this humanitarian crisis one of the most significant in the world,'' he siad.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 24Aprl2014

25 april 2014 00:03:00

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