Oxfam says only travel agents gained from UN meeting - Taha, called on international community to help his government disarm fighters
[Note Oxfam's Brendan Cox, who attended the UN Security Council meeting said, quote "The atmosphere at the meeting here in Nairobi is very flat. Nobody seems very concerned." - and note Mr Annan's statement, "When crimes on such a scale are being committed, and a sovereign state appears unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens, a grave responsibility falls on the international community, and specifically on this council"]
ONE of the main aid agencies trying to help the victims of the genocide in Sudan yesterday accused the United Nations Security Council of doing nothing to help bring an end to the suffering.
Oxfam warned that information coming out of the Darfur region suggested that the increasing violence had left 200,000 people cut off from aid and at risk from lack of food and water.
As the Security Council met in a special session in Nairobi to discuss the situation in Sudan, the charity warned that the situation was deteriorating.
"There has been lots of talk over the last year, and commitments from all sides to end abuses, but security in Darfur has not improved. In fact, in the last two months it has started to deteriorate," Caroline Nursey, Oxfam’s regional director, said.
The charity’s Brendan Cox, who was attending the Security Council meeting, accused the UN of failing the people of Darfur. "The atmosphere at the meeting here in Nairobi is very flat. Nobody seems very concerned," he said.
"The only people who will benefit from this meeting are the travel agents and those people who will collect their free air miles. There is no optimism about the outcome of the meeting. We are expecting an even weaker draft resolution than before. It will probably be passed, but it will not make any difference.
"This is like Groundhog Day. You have got the same situation as before, worse even, and yet the UN Security Council keeps coming up with more and more watered-down resolutions."
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, told Security Council members that a swift conclusion of an agreement to end the 21-year civil war in southern Sudan was critical to solving the rest of the problems in Africa’s largest country.
But he went on: "I regret to report that the security situation in Darfur continued to deteriorate, despite the ceasefire agreement signed earlier."
Mr Annan urged the Security Council to issue "the strongest warning" to all the forces fighting in Sudan, adding that an agreement to end the war in southern Sudan would provide a basis for bringing peace to Darfur.
"When crimes on such a scale are being committed, and a sovereign state appears unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens, a grave responsibility falls on the international community, and specifically on this council," he said.
The Security Council is today expected to pass another resolution on Sudan in which it will pledge to monitor the situation in the country and "take appropriate action" against any side that fails to support the peace process.
However, while previous resolutions have made veiled threats against the Khartoum government, John Danforth, the United States ambassador to the UN, admitted that this one would contain no element of coercion.
"There is nothing threatening about it," he said. "What we want to do is point out that the international community is going to be there for Sudan in the long run."
It is only the fourth time that the Security Council has met outside of New York, but dignitaries were spared the inconvenience of having to mingle with the residents of Kenya’s capital.
A fleet of Mercedes sedans whisked the VIPs between airport, five-star hotel and the manicured lawns of the local UN headquarters.
Gitau Warigi, a columnist for Nairobi’s Nation newspaper, said he was concerned that the delegates were being cocooned from reality. "My only fear is when people come over and do their business, they tend to forget the problem of poverty, and that is one that people should focus on," he said.
Sudan has agreed to allow in African Union troops to monitor a ceasefire between the government and rebels in Darfur, but this has been hindered by a shortage of transport.
George Foulkes, the Labour MP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley and a former development minister, revealed yesterday that Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, had appealed to parliamentarians to put pressure on governments to help the African Union monitors in Darfur.
Mr Foulkes said that, in particular, Mr Mbeki wanted Britain, France and the US to provide transport planes to support the monitoring effort because few African nations had such aircraft to spare.
Mr Foulkes said he had written to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, urging him to consider the South African president’s request.
The need for the African Union troops was highlighted yesterday by the aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières, which said attacks on people living in Darfur, and on aid workers, were continuing.
In a letter to the UN, it said: "Six months ago, Médecins Sans Frontières briefed the Security Council on the massive suffering and death in Darfur which had resulted from militia attacks on villages and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
"Despite several resolutions and pledges since then, neither the government of Sudan nor the international community has provided sufficient assistance and security to the people in Darfur. After over 18 months, people’s lives are still under daily threat."
At yesterday’s meeting, the Sudanese vice-president, Ali Osman Taha, called on the international community to help his government disarm fighters and begin reconstructing the country.