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UN and US envoys discuss Darfur amid reports of a deadly clash near border

UN and US envoys discuss Darfur amid reports of a deadly clash near border

The United Nations and United States envoys for Sudan have held talks on the deteriorating situation inside the war-torn region of Darfur as reports are emerging of an attack on Saturday near the Chadian border in which armed men killed at least 31 people.

Meeting in Khartoum yesterday, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, the Secretary-General’s Principal Deputy Special Representative, and Andrew Natsios, the Envoy of the US President, discussed the recent political and security developments in Darfur, including plans for the eventual deployment of a hybrid UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that the two envoys exchanged views on the results of the high-level consultations held in Addis Ababa last month between the UN, AU, the Sudanese Government and others, as well on the AU Peace and Security Council summit in Abuja on 30 November.

Mr. Zerihoun and Mr. Natsios discussed how to re-energize the security arrangements within Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed since 2003 and at least 2 millions others displaced from their homes because of fighting between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups.

In the most recent attack, UNMIS said it has received reports that armed men on horseback killed 31 people in the Sirba area of West Darfur on Saturday. In El Geneina, the provincial capital of West Darfur, the situation has been described as volatile.

Tensions also remain in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur and scene of clashes last week between an Arab militia and a segment of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) linked to the leader Minni Minnawi, with automatic weapon fire heard around the town several times last night.

During their meeting Mr. Zerihoun and Mr. Natsios also discussed how to widen support for the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), a pact signed in May by the Government and only some of the many rebel groups operating in Darfur.