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Recent surge in Darfur violence threatens peace talks, says Secretary-General

Recent surge in Darfur violence threatens peace talks, says Secretary-General

Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern at the recent surge in fighting across the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan, warning that it jeopardizes the chances of success of the peace talks being held next month to try to end the conflict.

“The Secretary-General strongly urges all parties to show restraint and cease all military action in order to create a positive atmosphere for the envisaged political negotiations,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

He cited last week’s attacks in the town of Hashkanita when, according to reports of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), aerial bombardments involving helicopter gunships and military clashes on the ground caused the deaths of many civilians.

Mr. Ban also referred to the attacks last month that took place in Adilla, South Darfur, and Wad Banda, in the neighbouring Kordofan region.

“The Secretary-General is alarmed by the fact that the reported attacks took place in spite of the signing of a joint communiqué on 6 September, during the Secretary-General’s visit to Sudan, in which the Government of Sudan committed to a full cessation of hostilities in Darfur in the lead-up to the political negotiations,” the statement said.

Those negotiations between the Sudanese Government and the Darfur rebels, scheduled to begin in Libya on 27 October, will be led by the UN and AU envoys to Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim.

More than 200,000 Darfurians have been killed and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003 because of the fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia groups.

In July the Security Council authorized the establishment of the first hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (to be known as UNAMID) to take over from AMIS and try to quell the violence in Darfur, an arid and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank.

Today’s statement by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson was released as the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that a vehicle belonging to a non-governmental organization (NGO) was carjacked by two armed men in North Darfur state over the weekend.

The armed men forced the driver and 10 other staff members of the NGO out of the vehicle.

In a separate incident in South Darfur state, two men stopped a three-vehicle UN-NGO convoy and robbed passengers in one vehicle of their satellite phones, mobile phones and money before allowing them to escape unharmed. The other two vehicles were able to turn around and escape.