Tuesday, December 21, 2004

U.N. Security Council to meet today at Britain's request

The United Nations Security Council is due to meet today, at Britain's request, for a briefing on the latest developments which have prompted strong condemnation from British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn.

"Recent rebel attacks on Tawilla and on humanitarian convoys in Darfur, along with the murder of two Save the Children UK staff are particularly horrific," Mr Benn said in a statement. "It is imperative that all parties return to the AU-mediated negotiations in Abuja [the capital of Nigeria], which is the only way that the suffering of the people of Darfur can be brought to an end."

"The recent actions by the government of Sudan have been carried out in defiance of the obligations placed upon it by three UN Security Council resolutions on Sudan," Mr Straw said. If the council received confirmation of additional ceasefire violations, he said Britain would expect it to take "further action."

Today's briefing could provide the ammunition for the Security Council to take such action, amid calls for the AU mandate to be toughened. At present, the 800 AU soldiers deployed in a region the size of France only have the task of monitoring the ceasefire and not of peacekeeping or protecting the civilian population.

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