Darfur crisis now affects two million, UN reports
THE crisis in Darfur is now affecting at least two million people as violence and insecurity in the war-torn region of Sudan intensify, the United Nations warned last night.
Kofi Annan, the UN general secretary, accused the Sudanese government and rebels of trying to take more territory in Darfur, and spoke of strong indications that war crimes have been committed in the region.
The UN has demanded that Khartoum take action to end the violence, disarm the government-backed Janjaweed militias blamed for many attacks and punish the perpetrators.
The latest evidence of continued fighting in Darfur is contained in a report which went before the UN Security Council last night.
The report, written by Jan Pronk, the senior UN envoy to Sudan, recommends council members take "prompt action" to get the government and rebels to comply with UN resolutions and urges countries with influence to exert pressure on the parties to negotiate a peace deal.
According to copies of the report circulated ahead of publication, the estimate of people in Darfur affected by the conflict rose during September from 1.8 million to 2 million, an upward trend expected to continue until the end of the year.
The increase stems mainly from the growing number of internally displaced people who have fled their homes because of insecurity, now 1.6 million, the report said. A further 400,000 people affected by the conflict require humanitarian assistance.
The report said various sources had reported a new rebel group, the National Movement for Reformation and Development, has attacked government troops and threatened African Union troops deployed to help end the violence.
Until the government starts taking more than "pinprick" action against the perpetrators, the report warned, no displaced people will dare return home and no group will agree to disarm.
"Without an end to impunity, banditry goes from strength to strength, menacing the population and obstructing the delivery of aid to desperate people in isolated areas," the report said.
"There are strong indications that war crimes and crimes against humanity have occurred in Darfur on a large and systematic scale."
An international commission appointed by Mr Annan has three months to study human rights violations and determine whether genocide has occurred in Darfur.