by Edith Lederer June 12, 2006 (via Cron.com) U.N. visitors fear Darfur war could destabilise Africa - Delegation calls Sudan peace vital to the entire region:
KINSHASA, CONGO - A U.N. Security Council delegation wrapped up its Africa trip Monday with a sense of urgency for finding ways to bring peace in the three-year conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.
During their final stop in Congo, which is just emerging from its own war, council members were warned that all of central Africa could be destabilized by the fighting in Darfur, which has killed at least 180,000 people and forced 2 million to flee their homes.
"Peace in Darfur is basic to peace in Sudan, in Chad, in the subregion, and perhaps more widely," said Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry. "We've learned a lot. We've seen the camps. ... We've had a very good feel for it, and now we've got to go back and see if we can draw some conclusions."
France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, said he was "very reassured" that the Security Council's plan for a U.N. military force to take over peacekeeping in Darfur from a 7,000-soldier African Union mission should be the next step in the process.
But the Sudanese government still must give its approval. It has so far been reluctant, but it also is wary of directly opposing the inter-national community when both the African Union and the United Nations say U.N. peacekeepers are needed.
"What we are doing is to try to have this train, which already left, arriving to the station in Darfur, and the question now is to deploy a force there to do the whole thing right - and it's very complex," de la Sabliere said.
Decades of low-level clashes in Darfur over land and water erupted into war in early 2003 when ethnic African rebels based in farming villages rose up against Sudan's Arab-led government, which responded by unleashing the nomadic Arab militias known as janjaweed.
The janjaweed have been accused of widespread atrocities against farm villagers.
Sudan's leaders deny backing the militias, but agreed under a May 5 peace agreement with the largest rebel group to disarm and disband the janjaweed.