Continued Clashes Leave Darfur’s Security Situation Tense, UN Reports

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–24 May 2010 – The security situation in the war-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur remains tense and unpredictable due to ongoing clashes between Government forces and rebels, the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission there said today.

The mission, known as UNAMID, confirmed that fighting is continuing between the Sudanese forces and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) near Um Sauna, a village in South Darfur.

The fighting, which started on 19 May, has claimed several lives and casualties on both sides, and the Government and JEM have reportedly reached an agreement to allow an international humanitarian group to assist the injured.

UNAMID Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari has repeatedly called on the parties to engage in dialogue rather than resort to violence.

“The peace process, which I have been proactively supporting under the leadership of the Joint Mediation team, has progressed but a deep sense of mistrust remains and some parties are not engaging in the process,” he told the Security Council last week, referring to UN-AU-sponsored talks in Doha, Qatar, between the Government and various rebel groups.

In February, the Sudanese Government and JEM signed a Framework Agreement in Doha, paving the way for a final resolution of the conflict in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes since violence erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and their allied Janjaweed militiamen.

But the parties could not agree on a final peace accord by the 15 March deadline and the JEM suspended its participation in the talks earlier this month due to alleged violations of the ceasefire agreement and attacked Government positions and commercial truck convoys.

Renewed fighting has also been reported between the Government and another group, the Abdul Wahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), as well as between tribes in South Darfur.

“These clashes have caused substantial civilian casualties, the displacement of communities, and hampered the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Gambari said at last week’s Council meeting, calling on all parties to facilitate access for UNAMID and the humanitarian community to the sites of recent fighting.

“In this context, it is with grave concern that I must report that UN and humanitarian personnel continue to be a target of attacks and criminal acts,” he added, citing attacks against UNAMID peacekeepers, abductions and carjackings.

“To thwart future recurrences of such incidents I have given firm instructions to our troops and police contingents to respond more robustly to attacks. I have also made it clear in all my engagements that such attacks constitute war crimes.”