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Sudan: Ban Ki-moon calls for ‘dialogue’ from all sides as daily violence continues

Sudan: Ban Ki-moon calls for ‘dialogue’ from all sides as daily violence continues

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Painting his grimmest picture yet of the humanitarian and security situation in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated the urgent need for a ceasefire, calling for “dialogue and negotiation” from all sides, while the United Nations mission in the country today reported more abductions, hijackings and tribal fighting throughout the region.

In his latest report on Darfur to the Security Council, which was released today and covers the past three months through January, Mr. Ban in particular condemns the recent aerial bombings by the Government and the arrest and physical abuse of international humanitarian staff by local police last month.

“I am distressed by the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation on the ground. All parties must cease violent attacks on civilians. I particularly deplore the aerial bombings by Sudanese Government forces, which have expanded to new areas since 16 January, resulting in more civilian casualties and suffering,” he writes.

“I appeal, in the strongest possible terms, to the Government of the Sudan and the other parties to desist from further hostilities, which destabilize the entire region and render peace an increasingly distant prospect. All parties must submit to dialogue and negotiation, and commit themselves to a non-military solution to the devastating conflict in Darfur.”

Mr. Ban says the increasing violence since November last year has also stretched the capacity of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), and he appeals for more international assistance to the Mission and also for the UN support packages to this operation.

Highlighting his attendance at last month’s African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Mr. Ban also writes of his frank discussions with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, noting their views “clearly differed on the gravity of the security situation” in Darfur, but adding that the President had reiterated his support for a hybrid UN-African Union force.

“I look forward to receiving from the Government of the Sudan a confirmation of their readiness to implement both the heavy package of United Nations support to AMIS and the hybrid African Union-United Nations operation. In the meantime, the United Nations is proceeding with the preparatory work to implement these plans.”

Mr. Ban said last week he had sent a letter to President Bashir on 24 January stressing the importance of more support for AMIS, as well as the need for the rapid deployment of the hybrid force.

Today’s release of the Secretary-General’s latest report on Darfur, comes as the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports continuing violence throughout the region, and also as the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country said much still needs to be done to follow-up on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended 21 years of separate civil conflict between north and south Sudan.

In north Darfur, UNMIS reports that military authorities denied access for a UN agency and other aid organizations to an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on Tuesday, while in a separate incident elsewhere, local police say Arab nomads abducted four women who were out collecting firewood.

In south Darfur, fighting is still continuing between Targem and Rezegat Maharia tribes in the Kass area, while in west Darfur on Tuesday three armed men attempted to hijack two vehicles belonging to a UN agency in Dorti IDP camp.

On the separate issue concerning the CPA that was signed in January 2005 ending the conflict between north and south Sudan, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNMIS Head of Mission Tayé-Brook Zerihoun told reporters today that while some progress had been achieved, pressing legislation still needs to be passed, especially in the area of security reform.