Sudan

Sudan: UN, international community underline need for urgent solution to Darfur crisis

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Voicing grave concern over the dire humanitarian and security situation inside Darfur, an international meeting involving the United Nations, the African Union (AU), Sudan and 14 other countries or regional organizations has stressed the need to find a comprehensive solution to the conflict as soon as possible.

The two-day meeting, held in the Libyan capital Tripoli over the weekend, called for an immediate end to all attacks against relief workers and AU peacekeepers and a wider ceasefire so that serious peace negotiations can take place.

In a text known as the Tripoli Consensus on the Political Process for Darfur, the participants also reconfirmed their support for the so-called Addis Ababa conclusions of last November, when the Sudanese Government agreed to the establishment of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force to quell the violence.

The hybrid force is slated to have a strength of about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers, and would be the final phase of a three-step process in which the UN is giving support to the existing and under-resourced AU peacekeeping mission, known as AMIS.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others forced to flee their homes because of the fighting between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups since 2003, and the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has named a former Sudanese Government minister and a militia commander as the first suspects he wants tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The Tripoli Consensus also voiced support for the work of the UN and AU Special Envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, and urged them "to intensify consultations and rapidly finalize their road-map on a strategy and timeline for renewed negotiations."

Mr. Eliasson attended the Tripoli meeting, along with representatives of the AU, Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, the European Union and the League of Arab States.

In a related development, the Security Council today voted to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) by another six months until 31 October, welcoming progress in carrying out the comprehensive peace agreement that ended another Sudanese conflict - the civil war between north and south.

The resolution urged the Secretary-General to appoint a new Special Representative for Sudan as soon as possible and called on the former opponents in the civil war to "re-energize the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants."

But the Council also expressed "grave concern over the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Darfur," citing attacks targeting civilians and pointing to the conflict's potential threat to the wider region.