Darfur: UN, AU envoys alarmed by violence between Government and rebels

Darfur: UN, AU envoys alarmed by violence between Government and rebels

Salim Ahmed Salim (L) and Jan Eliasson
Speaking out against the recent stepped up violence between the Sudanese Government’s forces and a rebel group, the United Nations and African Union (AU) envoys spearheading efforts to reach a durable political settlement in the war-ravaged Darfur region today underscored the civilian suffering resulting from the fighting.

Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim said in a statement that they are “alarmed and deeply troubled” by the military escalation between the Government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Noting that all sides have agreed that there is no military solution to the five-year conflict in Darfur, the parties must “act accordingly.”

The statement added that “this escalation can only cause more suffering for the people and more damage and destruction for Darfur,” and urged the sides to refrain from taking further military action.

“The parties have a serious responsibility to ensure the protection of innocent civilians who have suffered far too long,” Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim stated.

“The deteriorating situation in Darfur and the region bring further urgency for the need to engage in dialogue on security issues, to lay the basis for a serious peace process in Darfur.”

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.5 million displaced from their homes since 2003, when rebels began fighting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen in the arid and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank.

Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly deplored the recent bombings of villages in North Darfur which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries, and called on all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities and ensure the protection of civilians.