Despite fewer casualties in Darfur, conditions steadily deteriorating – Annan report

18 August 2005

While deaths from clashes between Sudanese Government forces and armed factions in Darfur have declined, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns in a new report that the ensuing “descent into lawlessness” – looting and rebel attacks against civilians and aid workers – has only intensified insecurity in the war-torn region.

While deaths from clashes between Sudanese Government forces and armed factions in Darfur have declined, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns in a new report that the ensuing “descent into lawlessness” – looting and rebel attacks against civilians and aid workers – has only intensified insecurity in the war-torn region.

“While the daily rate of casualties from fighting has declined in recent months, the damage to the social and economic fabric in Darfur and the longer-term costs of this conflict are steadily becoming clearer," says Mr. Annan in his monthly report to the Security Council, which notes that as of 1 July, 3.2 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance and 1.9 million were living in crowded camps in Sudan.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 when rebel factions demanded an end to economic marginalisation and sought power-sharing within the Sudanese state. The ensuing 28-month civil war waged by the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) armed movements against the Government and its allied militia has killed nearly 180,000 people and driven more than 2 million from their homes.

"I urge both parties to recognise that despite some stabilization of the security situation in Darfur, at a deeper level, living conditions are steadily deteriorating," Mr. Annan says in the report, urging the parties to control their military commanders and reverse the slide into “predatory warlordism” and criminal behaviour. “The longer the parties allow this climate of ‘no war, no peace’ to continue, the higher the price to be paid for restoring safety, dignity and prosperity to the lives of all people in Darfur,” he says.

The Secretary-General says that the parties have a clear responsibility to improve the situation, particularly “descent into lawlessness by the armed movements, the targeting of relief workers, harassment and looting of civilians and “unprecedented criminality” in the town of Nyala, which are part of the “dangerous pattern” of violence caused by the prolonged conflict.

“Economic life in Darfur has been depressed to the extent that declining revenue for Nyala has reduced the town’s administrative structures to a point of near breakdown,” he says, noting that internally displaceed persons (IDPs) crowded into camps for an indefinite period and cut off from their traditional patterns of living are vulnerable to psychological as well as physical insecurities, falling prey to rumours that inspire acts of violence directed even at those who have come to Darfur to help them.

Recalling that the signing of a preliminary agreement with the Government in July aimed at ending the fighting, Mr Annan said that when African Union-led peace talks reconvene next week, the parties must seize the opportunity to honour the memory of former First Vice-President John Garang by negotiating an end to the conflict and giving the people of Darfur a full voice in the future of a just, prosperous and united Sudan.

 

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