UN happy with peace moves in Darfur

New York- US (PANA) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed an agreement signed on Tuesday in Doha, Qatar, between the Sudanese government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
The pact, tagged: ``Agreement of Goodwill and Confidence-building for the settlement of the problem in Darfur'', was endorsed by the two parties under the auspices of the Government of Qatar and the AU/UN Joint Chief Mediator Djibrill Bassole.
In a statement issued on Wednesday at the UN headquarters in New York, Ban said: ``The agreement represents a constructive step in the ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful conclusion to this long-running conflict''.
The secretary-general also called on the Government of Sudan and JEM ``to move expeditiously to a cessation of hostilities and to a detailed and explicit agreement on the scope of comprehensive and inclusive talks''.
He, however, noted that, ``this underscores that until the parties renounce hostilities, the situation in Darfur cannot improve''.
The UN chief further reiterated the determination of the UN to continue its mediation, peacekeeping and humanitarian work ``impartially, and to support the efforts of the parties to reach a political solution to the conflict in Darfur''.
In a related development, the Force Commander of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Nigeria's Gen.
Martin Agwai, has expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Wada'ah in North Darfur.
Agwai also strongly condemned the fighting and called on all parties to refrain from further violence and destruction, urging all involved to commit themselves to a peaceful resolution.
The Nigerian general expressed the mission's concern in a statement made available to PANA on Wednesday.
It said that the commander, who led a fact-finding UNAMID assessment team to North Darfur, witnessed the extent of the damage suffered by the town.
``Numerous buildings and equipment, houses, shops, huts, and generators were burnt to the ground, and the market place was allegedly looted,'' it said.
``Granaries set on fire were still smoldering.
The team was taken to a site on the outskirts of Wada'ah''.
``In two different locations nearby, the UNAMID team was shown fresh mounds of earth which, according to the local residents, were the recently-dug mass graves where they buried 45 of their own people,'' the statement noted.
``The same sources indicated that a large number of people, many reported as having fled the fighting, were still unaccounted for,'' it added.
UNAMID said neither a precise casualty toll nor the number of possible wounded could be obtained and verified.

18 february 2009 20:15:00

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