The United Nations and African Union (AU) joint chief mediator for the peace process in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region today expressed grave concern over renewed combat in the southern part of the vast region, saying it undermines hopes for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
“The escalation of violence violates the spirit of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur of 2004 and constitutes a breach of various Security Council resolutions,” Djibril Bassolé said in a formal statement released in Khartoum.
Pointing in particular to military clashes involving the Government of Sudan, the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and another rebel group known as the Sudan Liberation Army/ Minni Minawi (SLA/MM), he called on the parties to cease fighting to minimize civilian suffering and create “a conducive environment for a political dialogue.”
The conflict between rebels and the Government and allied Janjaweed militiamen in Darfur has led to an estimated 300,000 deaths since 2003 and forced 2.7 million people to flee their homes.
Renewed fighting in southern Darfur's Muhajeria area that began earlier this month has exposed about 30,000 people to previously unseen levels of violence, destroyed an aid agency's office and forced the world body to relocate its staff.
Condemning the renewed attacks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on all parties in Darfur to commit to an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities and to intensify efforts to come to a comprehensive political agreement with the assistance of Mr. Bassolé.