Sudan: Annan urges parties to continue peace talks on Darfur

Sudan: Annan urges parties to continue peace talks on Darfur

Kofi Annan
Welcoming a framework for talks to address problems in the Darfur region of western Sudan, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the two sides to observe their ceasefire agreement and avoid attacks on civilians.

"He underlines the need to assure unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told journalists at the daily briefing.

Mr. Annan commended the African Union (AU) for deciding to send a ceasefire observer mission to Darfur, encouraged its speedy deployment, and assured the Government of Chad, host to tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees from Darfur, and the AU of UN support and cooperation in restoring peace in Darfur.

The situation in Darfur is regarded as the world's worst humanitarian situation, with hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the country, who may be reachable with food aid during the ceasefire, and about 110,000 refugees in eastern Chad.

According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the refugees are scattered along a 600-kilometre-long area of the remote border zone. Before UNHCR established camps for some of them, they were living in makeshift shelters of branches and straw in temperatures that ranged from scorching in the daytime to freezing at night. The rainy season begins in June.

Meanwhile, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said it started providing immediate relief during the ceasefire.

"More than one million people are already affected by this crisis and many more could suffer in the coming months," said Joanna van Gerpen, the UNICEF Representative in Sudan's capital, Khartoum. "It is imperative that we take maximum advantage of this window to save as many lives as possible."

In addition to providing food and water, UNICEF was working on preventing the spread of malaria, measles and meningitis, the agency said.