The UN Security Council expressed deep concern on Tuesday over the recent escalation of violence in the western Sudanese region of Darfur and called on all parties to the conflict to stop renewed clashes.
"The members call on all parties to cease all acts of violence and implement provisions of Security Council resolutions," the Council President for December, Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, said in a press statement.
The call followed a briefing by the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, Kieran Prendergast, who said the humanitarian situation in Darfur was "dire". He said the number of people affected by the conflict had risen to almost 2.3 million – more than a third of the total population since the November.
Prendergast said November had been characterised by violence and a marked deterioration in the security situation. The percentage of vulnerable people who could be reached, for example, fell from about 90 to 80 percent due to increased insecurity and the onset of the rainy season. In North Darfur, where tens of thousands were cut off from relief aid, the percentage fell to 67 percent.
"The SLA [the rebel Sudan Liberation Army] is thought to be responsible for instigating much of the violence, although it has denied this," Prendergast said.
Aerial bombings by the government in retaliation, if confirmed, would also be in breach of the humanitarian and security protocols signed by all warring parties in Abuja, Nigeria, on 9 November, Prendergast noted. He added that the Sudanese foreign ministry had continued to deny the reports of aerial bombings, despite the African Union (AU) saying it had evidence to that effect.
He said increased activity by Janjawid and other pro-government militias threatened to plunge Darfur into chaos.
"The militias have become a destabilising factor, posing a dilemma for existing mechanisms intended to deal with ceasefire violations," Prendergast said. "They are not included in any of the political negotiations, nor are they signatories to the ceasefire agreement.
"The international community must send an unequivocal message to all Sudanese parties that violence and hostile military actions are not an acceptable means to achieve political gains," he added. "Regrettably, the government has made no progress in disarming the Janjawid."
Prendergast added that the AU Ceasefire Commission had confirmed it had not been invited, so far, to verify any disarmament activities by the government.
He praised the efforts of the AU and called upon the international community to provide all the necessary support to enable the AU to increase its capacity in Darfur; so far consisting of only 800 troops and just over 100 military observers for its monitoring and mediating tasks.
The war in Darfur is between Sudanese government troops and militias allegedly allied to the government, and rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state. The conflict has displaced an estimated 1.45 million people and sent another 200,000 fleeing across the border into Chad.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
Help make quality journalism about crises possible
The New Humanitarian is an independent, non-profit newsroom founded in 1995. We deliver quality, reliable journalism about crises and big issues impacting the world today. Our reporting on humanitarian aid has uncovered sex scandals, scams, data breaches, corruption, and much more.
Our readers trust us to hold power in the multi-billion-dollar aid sector accountable and to amplify the voices of those impacted by crises. We’re on the ground, reporting from the front lines, to bring you the inside story.
We keep our journalism free – no paywalls – thanks to the support of donors and readers like you who believe we need more independent journalism in the world. Your contribution means we can continue delivering award-winning journalism about crises. Become a member of The New Humanitarian today.