Darfur remains tense after recent eruption of fighting, UN reports

A senior United Nations official says the situation in Sudan’s war-ravaged western Darfur province remains tense following fighting this week between various rebel groups and government forces.
“The situation on the ground is still very fluid and very confusing,” Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet told reporters yesterday after briefing the UN Security Council.
“You have actions from the JEM [the rebel Justice and Equality Movement], you have actions from SLA/MM [Sudan Liberation Army/ Minni Minawi – another rebel group], you have actions from the Government, fighting each other, so it is very complex,” he added.
“The problem here is that they have chosen right now to follow the path of confrontation and war instead of negotiations,” he said of the conflict between rebels and the government and allied Janjaweed militiamen that has led to an estimated 300,000 deaths since 2003 and forced 2.7 million people to flee their homes.
“We do hope that the Council will call on all parties to stop these military actions and to abide by the respect of humanitarian laws and the respect of civilians who have been the recent victims again of this fighting,” he added.
The UN News Centre says the joint African Union-UN mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that increasing numbers of civilians are seeking refuge at its two South Darfur camps as a result of the recent clashes.
Joint UN-AU Special Representative Rodolphe Adada told UN staff at mission headquarters in El Fasher that UNAMID will continue its mandated operations of protecting civilians, ensuring that humanitarian assistance is provided to those in need and finding a political solution to the crisis.
UNAMID on Monday and Tuesday reported aerial bombing and artillery fire on the outskirts of El Fasher with Government assaults some nine kilometres from the city seeking to clear the area of advancing rebels.
“There have been no reports of civilian deaths or casualties and El Fasher airport has re-opened but the situation is tense and movement of personnel remains restricted,” it added.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned the renewed hostilities, saying continued military actions threaten civilian lives and jeopardize political efforts to reach a durable peace.