In Darfur Security Council sounds alarm on increased violence

8 October 2010The Security Council delegation visiting Sudan travelled to the war-ravaged region of Darfur today, expressing its concern over increased strife, civilian protection, sexual violence and the illegal flow of weapons, while the search continues for an abducted staff member of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission there. United Kingdom Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who is heading up the Darfur segment of the Council’s mission, expressed the body’s concerns during a meeting in El Fasher with the Wali, or governor, of North Darfur.Mr. Lyall Grant said the Council hoped to show its support for the joint UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID.The Council set up the mission in 2007 to protect civilians 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.In today’s meeting with the Wali, the Ambassador also mentioned yesterday’s abduction of a Hungarian UNAMID staff member.An extensive search by both UNAMID and Sudanese authorities is under way for the missing staff member, who was abducted along with two other mission employees from their residence in El Fasher yesterday by three gunmen, who left the scene in a UNAMID vehicle. Two of the employees managed to escape from the moving car.The mission reported today that there has been no contact with the suspects or the abducted UNAMID employee.While in El Fasher today, the Council members also visited the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), where they met with residents and received a briefing at its police community centre.Later in the day, the delegation travelled to the capital, Khartoum.UN officials have warned that the humanitarian situation in Darfur has worsened this year due to resumed clashes between Government forces and rebels, as well as stepped up tribal fighting. The situation has been aggravated by continued attacks on UN-AU peacekeepers and abductions and mistreatment of UN staff and aid workers. Yesterday, the Council members wrapped up a two-day visit to Juba in southern Sudan, underscoring that the two referenda scheduled for January must be held on time, in a peaceful environment and according to the provisions of the peace agreement that ended the war between the north and the south.“We are here to reinforce that message and the determination of the Council to support you and all parties to the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] in that process,” said Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States, who headed that leg of the mission.On 9 January the inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on whether to be part of the north or the south.The referenda will be the final phase in the implementation of the CPA, which was signed in 2005 to end two decades of warfare between the northern-based Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south.The Council delegation began their trip in Uganda, where they visited the UN logistics support base in the city of Entebbe and met with the country’s President, Yoweri Museveni.