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Ban Ki-moon voices alarm at Sudanese aerial attacks in North Darfur

Ban Ki-moon voices alarm at Sudanese aerial attacks in North Darfur

Ban Ki-moon
Expressing deep concern about reports of a series of deadly aerial bombardments across North Darfur state during the past three weeks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the Sudanese Government to halt all attacks and comply with the peace agreements it has signed and with international humanitarian law.

“These attacks have brought more destruction and loss of life, including new displacement of civilians,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement. “In one instance, the school in the village of Um Rai was struck by rockets fired from a Government helicopter.”

Only a political solution can bring peace and stability to Darfur, the statement stressed, calling on both the Government and rebel groups in the impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank to renounce military action.

Mr. Ban “strongly urges the Government of Sudan to cease all attacks and to comply fully with the Darfur Peace Agreement, Security Council resolutions and international humanitarian law.”

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes because of fighting between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias – notorious for their attacks against civilians – and rebel groups since 2003.

The UN and the African Union (AU) have been engaged in joint efforts to mediate an end to this conflict, which is threatening to spill into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) as well. Today’s statement urged all sides to cooperate fully with the UN-AU team, which is led by UN envoy Jan Eliasson and AU envoy Salim Ahmed Salim.

The two special envoys are currently in Juba, southern Sudan, for talks with Sudanese Vice-President – and President of the Government of southern Sudan – Salva Kiir. The discussions are expected to focus on the initiative of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), a former rebel group in the south, to help in re-energizing the Darfur peace process.

Fresh bouts of inter-tribal fighting and militia attacks throughout Darfur are causing further population displacements across the region, according to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). Continuous new arrivals in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state, have brought internally displaced person (IDP) camps near there to capacity.