News and Information

UN deadline on Darfur approaches
August 30, 2004
At least five aid workers are reported to have been kidnapped in Darfur, as a UN deadline nears for Sudan to report on security in the troubled region.
The Sudan government said rebels abducted the Sudanese nationals who were working for international groups.

A UN report on Sudan's efforts to stop the violence that has exacerbated a humanitarian disaster has been held up. The UN Security Council threatened to act if Sudan failed to disarm militias, blamed for killing civilians.

More than one million black Africans in Darfur have been driven from their homes, primarily by the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.


Q&A: Darfur conflict
Eyewitness: Life in north Darfur

Sudan's government denies being in control of the Janjaweed and President Omar al-Bashir has called them "thieves and gangsters".

The BBC's Hilary Andersson in southern Darfur says large parts of the region remain insecure for displaced civilians.

It was in southern Darfur that the aid workers were last seen - working for the UN's World Food Programme and the Sudanese Red Crescent.

The organisations confirm that some of their people are missing but do not say what happened to them.

There are also reports of a militia in West Darfur attempting to force refugees at Riyad camp to sing during a UN visit - only for them to fight back, destroying police and aid offices.

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator said government troops and SLA rebels clashed in North Darfur as recently as last Thursday, threatening 3,000 displaced people.

Civilians in the town of Abata have told the BBC that hundreds of people have been imprisoned there since January by Janjaweed militia, who are beating and raping the people inside.

They are also suffering from severe food shortages.

Troops sent

The UN's special envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, is expected to address the Security Council on Thursday about what progress has been made in returning stability to Darfur since the UN gave Khartoum a 30-day ultimatum on 30 July.

The Council will then debate the issue after hearing a report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan later in the week.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said he hoped the Security Council would come to a "reasonable decision" when it debates the issue later in the week.

"We wish the relationship between Sudan and the Security Council will not be in the way of confrontation," he told APTN television in an interview.

Nigeria has sent a contingent of about 150 troops to Darfur to guard ceasefire monitors, as peace talks continue in Abuja.

The world community has a duty to alleviate the abject suffering of the displaced people in Darfur

Pancha Chandra, Belgium

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They will work alongside 150 Rwandan troops sent to the region earlier this month as part of an AU protection force.

Sudanese government officials at the ongoing peace talks on the Darfur crisis in Abuja say they are confident they have done enough to satisfy the UN's demands.

But the rebels insist that sanctions are necessary and claim new government attacks in the region.

The African Union (AU), mediating the talks, has asked ceasefire monitors in Darfur to investigate the claims, which the Sudan government denies.

Khartoum denies it used the Janjaweed to quell an uprising by Darfur rebel groups last year.

The two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army, who were demanding greater access to resources have both made it clear that they will not disarm without a political deal.


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