UN: UN peacekeeping chief says resolving Darfur conflict still in doldrums

New York, US (PANA) - Against the backdrop of renewed military confrontation, the political
process to resolve the conflict in Darfur through dialogue remains fragmented with limited
progress, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said here on Monday.

Briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Sudan's Darfur region, Mr. Ladsous
said: "Major armed movements and opposition parties continue to boycott the current
national dialogue framework to bring peace and stability to the region,"

"Since the last report submitted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in
December 2015, fighting has resumed in the Jebel Marra area, with clashes in the west
and north of Darfur marking the end of a brief lull in the civil war, which the UN estimates
has killed tens if not hundreds of thousands of Darfuris and displaced nearly two million
since 2003.

"In the north, where villages were recently attacked by Arab militias, troops from the
UN/AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) were shot at twice – once by the Sudan Liberation
Movement/Abdul Wahid faction while trying to recover a stolen World Food Programme
(WFP) truck, and a second time by Arab militias while protecting a top UN official during
a trip to Anka.

"The security situation limited an inter-agency relief mission to Anka, and humanitarian
assistance had to be delivered by airdrops."

The UN official said that south of El Geneina, 5,000 people have reportedly been displaced
due to deadly violence, but neither the UN nor humanitarian partners have been able to
confirm this figure due to Sudanese authorities blocking their access to the area.

"Despite the extension of the unilateral cease-fire by President Omar Al-Bashir in the
region of Jebel Marra, incidents occurred, aerial bombardments resumed, and clashes
between governmental forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Abdul Wahid
intensified in January," Mr. Ladsous said.

A dozen bombs were reported in North and Central Darfur and fighting between
government forces and Abdul Wahid rebels resulted in victims, but the number could
not be verified, again due to lack of access.

Mr. Ladsous however reported that 7,900 civilians, mainly women and children, have
sought refuge around the UNAMID camp at Sortoni in North Darfur.

"With respect to the Darfur peace process, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
and the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi faction held a meeting with the Deputy
Prime Minister of Qatar on 11 January in Paris.

"They pledged to develop a joint position paper on their concerns with respect to the
Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), which forms the basis for a permanent
ceasefire and comprehensive peace agreement to end the fighting.

"An informal meeting between the Sudanese government officials and the two groups
started in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia, on 23 January, but the parties reportedly remain divided
on the role of the DDPD and an African Union implementation panel," he said.

"It is regrettable that Abdul Wahid has been absent from these talks and we
call upon him to participate constructively in the efforts to find a resolution to the
conflict," he emphasized.

"With no major improvement in its overall status, since the last report to the UN
Security Council, the government rejected another seven visa requests, including
four involving substantive civilian functions and one for the post of Senior Joint
Operations Officer.

"The resultant loss of capacities in those sections directly related to the strategic
priorities of UNAMID, such as the Protection of Civilians, is particularly concerning,
in light of the evolving situations in the Jebel Marra and other areas."

The UN official reiterated his concern about the impact of the renewed upsurge in
fighting on civilians, and expressed hope that, "the cessation of hostilities negotiations
will come to a positive conclusion and bring to an end the suffering of people caught
in the fighting."
-0-   PANA   AA/AR   25Jan2016

25 january 2016 19:00:48

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