UN Chief Concerned Over Fighting in Darfur, Deplores Attacks on Civilians

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–21 December 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced concern over clashes between Sudan’s Government troops and forces of one of the armed groups active in the country’s troubled western region of Darfur, noting that fighting has included attacks on civilians.

Mr. Ban urged the Sudanese Government and the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) to desist from renewed conflict, the excessive use of force, including the offensive use of aircraft, and to allow access by the humanitarian community and the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) to areas where civilians are in need of help.

“These clashes included attacks on civilians and destruction of property, and have resulted in renewed displacement, and the withdrawal of humanitarian agencies from some areas,” said a statement issued by the spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

The statement added that the Secretary-General is particularly disturbed about reports of violence at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Shaeria, 45 kilometres southeast of the village of Khor Abeche in South Darfur.

UNAMID reported today that an unknown group of armed men attacked the camp overnight, burning down part of the settlement.

Several of the camp’s residents fled to a UNAMID team site located nearby, joining over 300 IDPs who gathered there after clashes last week between Government forces and SLA/MM in Khor Abeche.

The mission also said that it is continuing to seek clearance for humanitarian teams to Khor Abeche, and reported a steady increase in the number of IDPs around the UNAMID site there.

In the statement, Mr. Ban expressed his support for the work of UNAMID, UN agencies and non-governmental personnel in areas of South Darfur and North Darfur affected by the latest violence, noting that they are working tirelessly to protect civilians under difficult conditions.

He appealed to the SLA/MM to rejoin the peace process aimed at ending the conflict in Darfur, and urged the Government to exercise restraint and to ensure the protection of civilians.