UN chief stresses need for all sides to adhere to ceasefire in Darfur

08:41, May 20, 2010      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday expressed concern over continued recent reports of a military build-up and violence between armed groups and Government forces in the war-wracked Sudanese region of Darfur.

In recent months, the Sudanese government has entered into ceasefire agreements in the Qatari capital with major rebel groups, including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

"I urge all parties to the conflict to scrupulously respect the ceasefire which has been declared, and to remain engaged in the negotiations in Doha towards a comprehensive settlement of the Darfur crisis," Ban said in a message to the launch of an outcome document, based on an exchange of ideas among Darfurian intellectuals, in Heidelberg, Germany.

The dialogue on peace issues contributing to that document was facilitated by the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public and International Law.

"Such commitment on the part of civil society is an important contribution to the settlement of the conflict and the cause of peace," the secretary-general said in his message, which was delivered by the Joint African Union-United Nations Mediator Djibril Bassole.

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.

The following month, Khartoum entered into an agreement with another group called the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), which included taking steps towards a cessation of hostilities.

Earlier this month, the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, urged the Government and JEM to stop fighting as it confirmed that fresh clashes had erupted between the two sides despite the peace process intended to end the conflict.

In a related development, the UN mission on Wednesday expressed great concern over Tuesday's abduction of three relief workers outside Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state.

Blue helmets, who are in Darfur to help restore stability to the region, have also been the target of attacks.

"The mission is deeply dismayed by the recent increase in these intolerable crimes and calls for the swift and unconditional release of the aid workers," UNAMID said in a media release.

Over the weekend, fighting between the Misseriya and Rizeigat Nawaiba tribes reportedly also claimed three lives and injured 12 others. UNAMID is continuing to work with local leaders to bring the two tribes to the negotiating table.



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