Annan urges Security Council and UN to rapidly rethink joint approach to Sudan

22 December 2004

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the United Nations and the Security Council to make an immediate and "real re-assessment" of their approach to resolving the humanitarian crisis engulfing Sudan's Darfur region because the current course is clearly not working.

Mr. Annan told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York that the Council and the Secretariat must work together to speed up the deployment of African Union (AU) troops to try to end the fighting there and the continuing attacks on civilians.

"The situation is deteriorating, the IDPs (internally displaced persons) are suffering, the African Union has not been able to put in as many forces as we had hoped, and they need desperate help," he said in response to questions.

More than 1.65 million people have been displaced from their homes in Darfur since two rebel groups took up arms at the start of last year to demand a greater share of economic resources in the vast and impoverished region on Sudan's western flank. Many have fled to neighbouring Chad. Pro-government militias also stand accused of killing and raping thousands of villagers.

The situation has worsened over the past week, with Sudanese Government forces and the rebels taking part in fresh clashes across the region, and the murder of several non-governmental organization (NGO) aid workers.

"Quite frankly, our approach is not working," Mr. Annan said, calling for a re-examination of the UN's steps so that it can put greater pressure on the Sudanese Government, the militias and the rebels to resolve their conflict. While not ruling out a trip to the country, he said it would not be as effective as a coordinated international approach.

He added: "What other measures can we take to…hold some of the individuals who are responsible accountable, hold them individually accountable, for us to be able to move forward?"

The Secretary-General said "these kinds of decisions and actions have to be decided here and taken here, and so, whilst a trip to the region may [at] some time be necessary, the re-assessment is urgent."

The latest round of AU-sponsored peace talks, held in Abuja, Nigeria, broke up yesterday without any results and another round of negotiations has been scheduled for next month.


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